Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 30127
Water Security in Rural Areas through Solar Energy in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Authors: Luis F. Beltrán-Morales, Dalia Bali Cohen, Enrique Troyo-Diéguez, Gerzaín Avilés Polanco, Victor Sevilla Unda


This study aims to assess the potential of solar energy technology for improving access to water and hence the livelihood strategies of rural communities in Baja California Sur, Mexico. It focuses on livestock ranches and photovoltaic water-pumptechnology as well as other water extraction methods. The methodology used are the Sustainable Livelihoods and the Appropriate Technology approaches. A household survey was applied in June of 2006 to 32 ranches in the municipality, of which 22 used PV pumps; and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Findings indicate that solar pumps have in fact helped people improve their quality of life by allowing them to pursue a different livelihood strategy and that improved access to water -not necessarily as more water but as less effort to extract and collect it- does not automatically imply overexploitation of the resource; consumption is based on basic needs as well as on storage and pumping capacity. Justification for such systems lies in the avoidance of logistical problems associated to fossil fuels, PV pumps proved to be the most beneficial when substituting gasoline or diesel equipment but of dubious advantage if intended to replace wind or gravity systems. Solar water pumping technology-s main obstacle to dissemination are high investment and repairs costs and it is therefore not suitable for all cases even when insolation rates and water availability are adequate. In cases where affordability is not an obstacle it has become an important asset that contributes –by means of reduced expenses, less effort and saved time- to the improvement of livestock, the main livelihood provider for these ranches.

Keywords: Solar Pumps, Water Security, Livestock Ranches, Sustainable Livelihoods.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1251


[1] Anderson, T., A. Doig, et al. (1999). Rural Energy Services. A handbook for sustainable energy development. London, IT Publications.
[2] CNA and SEMARNAT (2000). Plan Nacional Hidraulico 2001-2006. Mexico, CNA SEMARNAT PND.
[3] FIRCO (2002). Programa Estatal de Energia Renovable para la Agricultura Baja California Sur. Evaluacion Anual. La Paz, Secretaria de Agricultura Ganaderia Desarrollo Rural Pesca y Alimentacion: 4.
[4] Foster, R., G. Cisneros, et al. (1998). Life-cycle cost analysis for photovoltaic water pumping systems in Mexico. 2nd World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion proceedings, Vienna.
[5] IT and U. o. T. Technology and Development group, Eds. (1994). The power guide : an international catalogue of small-scale energy equipment, Intermediate Technology Publications.
[6] ITDG (1992). Making technology work: five case studies, sustainable development in practice. London, Intermediate Technology.
[7] Sandia, N. L. (2001). Mexico Renewable Energy Program: Photovoltaic Water Pumping and Environmental Sustainability. Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sandia, N.L: 6.
[8] SEMARNAT, B. C. S. (2001). Hydrological Basins Section,
[9] Short, T. D. and R. Oldach (2003). "Solar Powered Water Pumps: The Past, the Present -and the Future?" Journal of Solar Energy Engineering 125(febraury): 76-82.
[10] Soussan, J. (1998). Water/Irrigation and Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. Sustainable Rural Livelihoods What contribution can we make? D. Carney. London, Department for International Development: 181-198.
[11] Tyndale-Briscoe, P. and D. McMurdie (2000). A VLOM Handpump for 80 Metres. 26th WEDC Conference on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Challenges of the Millennium, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC).