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Running Water Uphill

November 10, 2008

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Agha Mohammad stands atop a reservoir that will help feed his pistachio trees on the hills above his farm. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

Agha Mohammad sits crouched atop a square concrete reservoir filled with over 20,000 gallons of water, still bemused at the fact that it is there, tucked into the hillside above his family farm.

"When they told me about this," he remembers, "I thought it was ridiculous. 'What do you mean you're going to take water from down the hill and bring it up here?'"

What Mercy Corps meant was to help Agha irrigate his vast array of hillside pistachio trees by bringing the water directly to them, easing the irrigation burden on the farmer and his family.

To do this, staff with our Catchment Development Program installed a hydraulic ram pump that uses the water pressure from a fast-flowing stream nearby to send it through a plastic tube up the hill, feeding the reservoir.

Now, instead of using one his donkeys to haul unwieldy containers of water up the hillside, all he has to do is turn the tap at the base of the reservoir and — voila — his orchard of pistachio trees is watered.

"I'm really excited about this now," Agha says, picking stray bits of grass out of the water. "Even my cousins who live nearby are so impressed that they are thinking of installing their own."