Since the start of COVID two and a half years ago, with the help of Proinpa, our southern partner, S.H.A.R.E. has been able to complete seven irrigation projects in Bolivia. These projects are located two to three hours from the city, high in the Andes mountains along precarious back roads. This has all been done while keeping everyone involved safe from COVID. In the process, S.H.A.R.E. has been able to provide 363 families with enough water to irrigate over 1,250 acres of farm land. These irrigation systems are designed to work on gravity flow, so there is no need for gas- or diesel-powered pumps or even electricity, which is necessary as some communities do not have access to electricity. This makes them very low maintenance and with no carbon footprint. The source of the water comes from small lakes, rivers, or springs higher up in the mountains.
Before the installation water was distributed through hand dug canals. Over 60% of the water was lost before it reached the fields. The flooding of the few fields that were able to be reached by this method caused a lot of soil erosion due to the steep slopes (some fields have slope of over 50°). Now almost all of the fields can be reached through a series of piping, pressure reducing valves, and sprinklers. As a result, there is enough water left that it can be shared with neighbours further down the slopes.
These irrigation systems make a huge difference in the lives of those who receive them. They no longer have to worry about food security in years of drought caused by climate change. They can now grow two crops per year. Their main crops are potatoes, fava beans, lupine, as well as some wheat and corn. They are now able to grow a greater variety of crops including peanuts, citrus, cucumber, and squash to name a few. This greatly improves their nutrition and health. The ability to grow two crops per year gives them extra to sell and provides additional income for important resources like education. The people are extremely grateful and tell us "we are family". We have received many more requests to provide similar irrigation systems to neighbouring communities.