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Fog Water project in Eritrea

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Source: munichre-foundation


Fog Nets for Eritrea

People in Africa spend about 40 billion hours each year on fetching water. A project carried out by Munich-based WasserStiftung (“Water Foundation”) aims to supply 1,000 people with drinking water. It is supported by the Munich Re Foundation.

From time immemorial, Kalahari bushmen in southern Africa have been using the dew which forms on plants in the cooler night temperatures. The scarce dewdrops are a most welcome and even life-saving refreshment in the dry season. Experts have optimised the technique of collecting dew or condensation water to the point that it has now even become possible to “harvest” fog water.

Project area
The project is being carried out in the highlands of Asmara in Eritrea, 2,000 to 2,500 m above sea level. Water supply is a major problem there outside the rainy season (June through August), as there are no springs or wells at these heights. It is mainly women and children who suffer the consequences, because they often have to walk for hours to reach the water points in the valleys. The water sold in the valley is brought by tankers from the capital city of Asmara. Because of the high cost of transport, the water is often sold at twice the regular price.

Why fog nets?
Fog formation is a natural phenomenon typical for the highlands. The warm air rises in the country’s interior and picks up moisture over the Red Sea. This results in extremely humid fog building up along a mountain region extending over a distance of 500 kilometers. The fog, which does not produce any rainfall, is present from November through March. Specially designed nets are used to capture the moisture carried by the air. Tiny droplets of condensed water form on the mesh and are collected in chutes. The method has been developed and optimised by the Canadian organisation FogQuest.

Current status of the project
A first set of fog collectors was installed for test purposes in early 2005. It is planned to install an additional 20 collectors, each with a net of 40 m², before the end of the year. Each fog net collects about 200 litres of water per day. A cistern with a capacity of about 30,000 litres is being built to hold the water. A water committee will be responsible for water administration and distribution and will set affordable prices. The cisterns will be guarded and will only be open for a few hours each day.

This innovative project, which may also be transferred to other regions, is a good example of how ancient knowledge can be applied today. It provides a realistic chance of bringing a lasting improvement to the lives of local people.

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