James Thuch Madhier fled South Sudan as a teenager, escaping the ravages of civil war and famine. This fall, the U of T undergrad and his social entrepreneurship team will be testing out their solar-powered crop irrigation system on eight hectares of land they’ve acquired in South Sudan. Madhier came from South Sudan via Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya through U of T’s Student Refugee Program (SRP), which sponsors refugees in collaboration with the World University Service of Canada.
A peace, conflict and justice student at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs, Madhier has worked with his classmates to create a basic, solar-powered crop irrigation system that provides clean drinking water to countries in the developing world. The team’s system, which includes a pump, a holding tank for the seasonal flood waters, solar panels to generate power and drip irrigation, is easy to install and use in South Sudan, where 80 per cent of residents are farmers or raise cattle, only 30 per cent have access to clean drinking water and 5.1 per cent of the population has electricity. In March 2017, the team formally launched Rainmaker Enterprise in partnership with Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier-turned-musician from South Sudan.