Solar Energy Brings Food, Water, and Light to West Africa
For two arid villages in Benin, starvation seemed a greater problem than the lack of electricity. Solar drip irrigation tackled both issues at once.
In 2007, the nongovernmental organization completed an ambitious plan to bring solar-powered drip irrigation systems to Dunkassa and Bessassi, two arid rural villages in Kalalé, a district in the northern part of the country. In an attempt to bring water to dry land for farming, the project melded two proven technologies—solar power and drip irrigation—that had rarely been used together.
The idea for the Benin project began two years earlier, when Freling received a call from Mamoudo Sétamou, an associate professor of agronomy at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Sétamou, who grew up in Benin, had recently visited Kalalé and was frustrated with the lack of electricity in rural villages. Sétamou had heard about a successful solar power project by SELF in Nigerian