The U.N. General Assembly declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. And the theme of this year’s World Water Week, September 1st-September 7th, is “Water Cooperation: Building Partnerships.” 768 million people do not have access to clean water, and two and a half billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. Meanwhile, U.N. Water estimates that the food sector contributes 40 percent of organic water pollutants in industrialized countries, and 54 percent in developing countries. During World Water Week, Food Tank will highlight research and innovations that are working around the world to conserve water resources and make clean water available to everyone. Research institutions, private businesses, governments, and the donor community can work together to scale these innovations up and alleviate global water scarcity.
Robert Freling is Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that has been on the cutting edge of delivering solar-powered solutions to rural villages since 1990. Under Freling’s leadership, SELF has pioneered the use of solar power for a wide range of applications, including water pumping and drip irrigation for family farmers. Farmers using these solar drip irrigation systems average a yield of 1.9 tons of produce per month, including tomatoes, okra, hot peppers, eggplant, carrots, amaranth, and greens. SELF is a National Geographic Great Energy Challenge Grantee and has completed projects in 20 countries, making it a leader among non-governmental organization in providing practical and cost-effective renewable energy alternatives for the developing world.
Food Tank had the opportunity to interview Freling about how low-impact farming practices are helping family farmers conserve valuable water resources while simultaneously increasing yields and feeding their communities. Watch the interview below: