A simple yet ingenious engineering fix is helping to supply rural Ethiopians with clean, potable water.
The WarkaWater consists of a nine-metre high bamboo frame which is capable of harvesting moisture from the air for conversion into potable water via a method which is simple and low-tech, yet still highly effective.
The structure employs a principle which has long been a staple of water collection methods in remote areas or wilderness survival situations – the gathering of condensation during foggy conditions, in this particular case via a nylon net suspended within the bamboo frame.
According to its inventors, the big difference with the WarkaWater lies in the efficacy of its design, which optimises both the surface areas and angles of condensation planes in order to fully maximise water production.
Its makers claim these pivotal enhancements make a single tower capable of collecting nearly 100 litres of potable water in a single day – enough to provide for the needs of a family of seven people.
The low cost and simplicity of the harvesting mechanism is a major advantage compared with other more sophisticated water collection technologies currently doing the rounds, which can cost up to $14,000 for a single device.
A WarkaWater tower costs a mere $550, a price which its developers will say could be significantly reduced should mass production commence.
The water tower is also very easy to install, dispensing with the need for any hi-tech equipment or machinery, and requiring only several days and a team of just half a dozen people to properly erect.
The inventors of the WarkaWater, Italian designer Arturo Vittori and Swiss architect Andreas Vogler, were inspired to develop the product while on a trip to Ethiopia in 2012, during which they saw women and children making lengthy sojourns on foot just to obtain potable water.
According to Water.org only 34 per cent of Ethiopians enjoy access a reliable supply of sanitary water, leading to major inconveniences and health problems for denizens of the countryside. Rural Ethiopians often have to walk for as long as six hours to collect water from shallow ponds and wells, which are often unhygienic or contaminated.
The WarkaWater has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of not just rural Ethiopians, but also hundreds of millions of people around the world faced with similar water shortages. According to figures from the United Nations, as many as 768 million people around the world do not have access to sanitary drinking water.
Vittori is currently working a second version of the water tower which promise to bring further improvements the lives of rural residents. WarkaWater 2.0 is expected to come equipped with solar panels and LED illumination, in order to facilitate access to the tower at night.