Ethiopia’s WarkaWater Towers Gather Drinking Water from the Air
An ingeniously simple way to boost access to clean drinking water.
So an Italian designer by the name of Arturo Vittori has come up with part of a solution: the WarkaWater tower. By harvesting water from the air, the 9 metre-high construction can collect more than 94 litres per day.
Like many ingenious devices, it works incredibly simply. Stalks of bamboo or juncus are bound together to create a semi-rigid shell. Inside, a nylon and polypropylene mesh traps moisture. These form dewdrops and travel downwards, settling in a basin at the tower’s base. The design is inspired by the Warka tree, an Ethiopian native that bears figs and serves as a site for local meetings.
Vittori invented the WarkaWater tower after a visit to north-eastern Ethiopia. “There, people live in a beautiful natural environment but often without running water, electricity, a toilet or a shower,” he tells Wired. Women and children walk for hours to collect water from ponds contaminated with human waste and full of worms. Not only does this mean serious exposure to disease and hard labour, it also means that children are kept from school.
“WarkaWater is designed to provide clean water as well as ensure long-term environmental, financial and social sustainability,” Vittori explains. “Once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the WarkaWater towers.” Four people can build one in a few days at a cost of US$550. All necessary materials are available locally.
Vittori is intending on having two towers built in Ethiopia by 2015. In the meantime, he’s seeking out financial support for their expansion. Another water-harvesting invention was launched in Lima last year.
Published on April 04, 2014 by Jasmine Crittenden