Food Security

Irrigation Systems

The Need: Many Karen farmers do not produce enough food to feed their families, and climate change has made natural hazards such as flooding and drought more common. Flooding often destroys traditional irrigation dams made from bamboo and wood, causing harvests to fail and forcing farmers to spend what little income they have on food. The impact on livelihoods is severe, with malnutrition widespread and over 64% of families in Mae Hong Son living below the Global Poverty Line of $1.90 per day. 

The Project: We have been installing flood-resistant irrigation systems since 2008 that are designed and implemented by our Karen staff. These are made from durable materials such as concrete that can withstand even the most severe flooding, ensuring that fields are irrigated throughout the rainy season. They also create a reservoir of water during the dry season which can be piped to nearby fields for growing cash crops. The project is completed using voluntary labour from the local community, equipping them with the skills and experience needed to keep the system sustained long into the future. 

The Impact: Sustainable irrigation systems provide the gift of food security, ensuring a reliable harvest every year and greater crop yields; previous villages have produced a fivefold increase in rice following the installation of a new flood-resistant system. Farmers have also been able to diversify their crop yield into vegetables and plants that provide a much greater income, which can subsequently be put towards services such as education and healthcare.

Food security also brings environmental benefits: villagers no longer need to harvest materials from the forest to construct traditional wooden structures, and there is less of a reliance on harmful slash-and-burn farming techniques. Our systems thus play an important environmental role while contributing towards disaster risk reduction.

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How You Can Help

2016 will see the successful completion of our 70th food security project, which have been implemented in some of Thailand’s most isolated and impoverished communities. However, there are still huge numbers that need to be reached, and our goal is to oversee the installation of 16 systems a year. You can help us achieve this by making a donation today; one project costs £14,000 to install, and any donation whether large or small will make a difference. For more information, our fundraising team will be able to answer any questions you may have.