Header image: Practical Action has used renewable energy to help farmers adapt to climate change in a variety of contexts around the world.
As leading intellectual property attorneys promoting innovation, we care about the wider innovation and technology community. That’s why we donate 1% of our annual profit to the Kilburn & Strode Innovation for All Foundation – giving more people the chance to innovate and prosper. Our company’s existence is not isolated. It’s part of a wider system of people, organisations, values, and nature.
This year, along with our annual Innovation For All Foundation grants, we are proud and excited to announce a long term partnership with Practical Action.
Practical Action is an international development organisation working with communities to develop innovative, lasting and locally-owned solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. They have a focus on four areas: agriculture, water and waste management, climate resilience and clean energy.
Our partnership begins with Practical Action’s innovative new project, Climate Resilient Farming for Rwanda’s Refugees, working with cooperatives and the private sector to pilot micro-solar irrigation and regenerative farming around the Mahama Refugee Camp, Rwanda. Practical Action will work with farmers from host communities and refugee camps to enable them to adapt to climate change and farm more sustainably.
Background of the project
The Government of Rwanda and the UN Refugee Agency formed the Mahama Refugee Camp in 2015. Mahama is Rwanda’s largest refugee camp and covers 175 hectares, with about 50,000 refugees. Under 18s account for 51% of the camp’s population.
Livelihood opportunities are very limited, and most refugees rely on informal farm work, outside the camp.
The area has experienced a significant loss of productive land through ecosystem degradation and soil erosion. These communities are finding farming increasingly difficult due to droughts and soil degradation – causing crops to fail. Climate change is making the droughts worse, and there are no trees to help with retaining the nutrients in the soil.
Since 2017, Practical Action has been working in three other refugee camps, supporting more than 50,000 refugees with its Renewable Energy for Refugee project.
Climate Resilient Farming for Rwanda’s Refugees project
The new project combines: energy and agriculture, access to finance, and business coaching. It’s not just aiming to increase productivity and food security; it also aims to ensure that what is grown has a market and that the capacity and the relationships needed to sustain and build market linkages are developed. Throughout the next two years, 80 farmers from Rwandan and refugee communities will be involved, so they can take control and transform their lives.
Innovative financing mechanisms for solar irrigation
The project will connect farmers, cooperatives, local government, the Rwandan Agricultural Board, financial institutions, and solar irrigation providers to explore and identify innovative financing mechanisms so refugee and host community farmers can access solar irrigation.
Farmer training and market connections
Solar irrigation systems will be installed on 20 hectares of land and trialled by 80 farmers (50% women) trained in use and maintenance. To increase income, Practical Action will improve access to markets, so farmers can sell crops in the refugee camp and to markets further afield, maximising their income from the sale of surplus produce.
Sustainability and scalability
The project is working with both the Refugees and smallholder farmers to join forces and improve their food security using regenerative and sustainable farming techniques.
The project will show the wider community the potential of renewable energy to transform livelihoods. By working with farmers from host and displaced communities, refugee camps will be viewed as windows of opportunity where markets thrive and renewable energy powers businesses.
And once the project ends, lead farmers will become changemakers - training and improving food security for their communities so improvements continue in the long term.
We chose to partner with Practical Action, not just because they share our core values of Building Relationships, Respecting Others, Excelling, Thinking Creatively and Taking Responsibility. We chose Practical Action also because they are paving the way for innovation using science and technology to create sustainable and scalable agricultural solutions to the world's most difficult issues, like climate change and hunger. If our industry can contribute to that mission, then that’s just incredible.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.