Advancement of local producible and deployable solar technology for use in small scale water applications for agriculture in Kenya

The project targets the nexus of water, energy, food security via the use of sustainable energy and subsequently, promoting rural development. For Kenya this nexus plays a crucial role in its development strategy. To approach this challenge, the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) are planning to develop the design (blue print) of a water pumping system, which can be fully manufactured, deployed, operated, maintained and enhanced using traditional technologies and available materials of the target region by local craftsperson, and which is powered via direct use of solar energy. The project does not aim to use photovoltaics but rather to use solar thermal energy systems to be built with locally available resources to generate more added value.

To achieve the goal of developing and implementing a solar driven water pump, local and regional characteristics and available materials need to be taken into account. Therefore an interdisciplinary approach is needed. For the project the interdisciplinary approach of the participatory technology assessment (PTA) and the technology shaping (TS) as part of a prospective technology assessment (ProTA) will be used, in order to shape the technology in the development phase, to be appropriate for the needs and the boundary conditions of the target region. The pump and the driving solar system will be developed jointly by the partners in the target region. Local stakeholder involvement, especially women, will play a crucial role in the development and implementation phase.

Know-how gained in the project will be used for teaching purposes on a university level – but not exclusively. Consequently, the project enhances the nexus water, energy and food security in research and improved teaching profile of the TUK. Further it offers the chance to enhance the cooperation between the institutional and local level in a way that both sides benefit from the project through adoption of new water and energy technologies.

The project itself, and the outcome of the project, will have a direct impact on meeting the needs of local farmers, local craftsperson and teachers. Farmers will benefit from the technology, via the implementation of solar energy for pumping water, which will be tailored to their needs. Local craftsperson will benefit through the cooperation with the university and will have the opportunity to develop, manufacture and implement the solar pump technology. Teachers will be given the opportunity to communicate the technology in their classes. Via small projects at schools a better understanding of the technology is sought and the interest of scholars in natural and applied sciences should be stimulated. Indirect impacts can be expected concerning women empowerment. Women – at the moment – are the key players in small scale farming, and are thus expected to benefit from the solar driven water pumping technology. The project aims to enhance the knowledge about the technology, and give women an equal opportunity to design, manufacture and enhance the technology for localized applications to address the food security situation in Kenya. Another indirect impact is expected on the local economy. Added value is expected due to the fact that local craftsperson will manufacture and install the technology. Further technological added value is expected based on the involvement of local stakeholders and the mutual know-how exchange. This could help to develop a knowledge based rural society, through the enhancement of the technology.


Müllner Nikolaus

Universität für Bodenkultur Wien