Enabling African smallholder farmers to shift from the unsustainable rain-fed farming to irrigation through water harvesting installations.

We install water harvesting ponds for farmers, enabling them to grow crops all year round as they cope with adverse climate change effects.

Photo of Simon Wachieni
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Nutri-Fresh Farm & AgriHub

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 500 - 1,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Kenya

Headquarters location: City

Thika, Kenya

Location(s) of impact

Kenya: Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Nyeri, Nakuru, Laikipia and Nyandarua Counties



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Climate change has affected livelihoods of millions of Africans, majority of whom rely on rain-fed farming practices. The changing and erratic rainfall patterns, coupled with rising temperatures have resulted to frequent and severe droughts. Low access to appropriate technology and relevant skills by smallholder farmers, combined with dwindling natural water sources have made it difficult for them to shift to irrigated practice. Other water sources, such as drilling are highly unaffordable for these low income farmers.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Despite the effects of climate change, the amounts of rainfall in many African regions have remained the same over time. However, the rainfall patterns have greatly changed, and temperatures have risen, resulting to poor crop production conditions under the rain-fed system as practiced by over 90% of African farmers. With the dwindling natural water bodies not being capable of supporting massive irrigation as well as other water uses needed for increasing populations, our water harvesting model presents a more viable and sustainable water source. Most of the water received during the rains goes into waste through ground run-off. We have developed affordable (plastic lined) leak-proof underground ponds of different sizes (to suit household needs) which we install for farmers to collect maximum run-off, reserve it then use it to irrigate the farms in the dry season. We combine this with water efficient irrigation and mulching installations as well as agronomic support.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Studies show that over 80% of water runs-off the ground after rainfall. Experiments also show that a 1sqm of surface collects about 1 liter of water under 1mm of rainfall. This proves that massive water resources are wasted. The use of 'lined' water harvesting ponds is one of the cheapest and efficient ways availing water resources (more than 5 times cheaper than conventional tanks). With over 100 installations done for farmers in Kenya, beneficiaries have managed to recoup their initial costs within two planting seasons. Irrigated practice has resulted to increase (of up to 5 times) in quantity & quality of produce. Access to quality and diverse food has resulted to better nutritional intake for households. Water availability has also caused a rise in forest cover as farmers plant more perennial fruit trees, thus improving climate conditions. Soil erosion has reduced due to crop cover. For some households, the ponds have enabled them to harvest adequate drinking water from the roofs.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The idea was initially supported by contributions from the founders to set up test products (water harvesting ponds) in several regions in Kenya. After prove of concept, the product was taken to the market and is now being supplied to paying clients. To ensure massive adoption, we plan to get into partnerships with lenders to give 'water pond loans' to our clients (farmers). Water ponds are more than 5 times cheaper than conventional tanks and can harvest large volumes of ground run-off water for farming. Lenders who have been giving out water tank loans are likely to partner with us, thus increase access for our products for low income borrowers. Irrigation capacity will increasing their incomes and ability to repay the loans. Annual Budget Owner contributions- 10% Earned income- 90%

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We are aware of other companies that supply water pond liners to farmers in Kenya, though their focus is mainly on large commercial farms that have the financial and technical capacity. For us, we target the obstacles that prevent smallholder farmers from shifting to irrigated farming. These farmers need a complete, affordable and sustainable water solution. We therefore provide technical support, raw materials, training and follow-up support. We tailor our products to suit individual's needs.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

The idea was inspired by a farmer who was trying to cope with climate change through digging water harvesting ponds, but his efforts were being thwarted by massive water loss through seepage and clogging of pond from silt. In that time, our idea was to only transfer easily available agricultural knowledge to smallholder farmers, such as the use of better seeds. However farmers kept telling us that even with better seeds, their production kept being affected by poor rainfall. This challenged us to think of how water harvesting using the 'pond model" could be improved by reducing of excessive water loss through seepage while also finding solutions for filtering the unwanted silt. After several designs, we arrived at a replicable model.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact


Join the conversation:

Photo of Simon Wachieni

Thanks a lot Duncan Marsh. The payback period for the farmers (if they grow high value crops such as vegetables & fruits) is 3 planting seasons or about one year.

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