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Clever Technology Turns Fog Into Clean Drinking Water
September 10, 2013
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A fog harvesting net in South Africa's Limpopo province, October 6, 2011 (Photo: AP)

Water is not easy to come by in the Ngong' hills outside of Nairobi city in Kenya. Thomson Reuters reports that the search for drinkable water there leaves some locals "weary from walking to the nearest water point, often shared with livestock and wildlife."

fog-harvesting-side.jpgBut a technology called fog harvesting offers a sustainable alternative to all that travel: the tech grabs moisture out of the air and converts it into drinkable water close to home. The fog harvesting system uses nets to capture moisture from the air and then collects it in barrels.

A layer of mesh, stretched between two posts and placed perpendicular to prevailing winds, traps tiny drops of water, which then gather in a supply gutter and drop into barrels below. A single unit can provide water for 20 to 40 people each day — anywhere from 400 to 1,000 litres — and each one costs about $300.

"I am happy because I have clean water near my home instead of walking long distances to look for it," 45-year-old Maasai woman Lucy Lotuno told Thomson Reuters.

The technology was brought to Kenya by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, the Kenya Meteorological Department and German NGO PedWorld.

"Fog harvesting is a sustainable way of reducing the pressure on water resources but it remains widely untapped," Bancy Mati, a professor at Jomo Kenyatta, said.

Reducing that pressure is a priority in Kenya, which the United Nations categorizes as a water-scarce country. A 2008 UNEP study found that Kenya is one of 31 countries facing chronic freshwater shortages. Over the next five years, the hope is to establish more and larger fog-harvesting plants to serve rural Kenyans.

"Innovations that scientifically enable the generation of fresh water are what we are aiming for in the new conservation masterplan," said Kenya's environment secretary, Alice Kaundia.

Although the tech hasn't been employed in Kenya until now, fog harvesting projects have been launched in various other parts of the world over the last few years. Hit the links to read about fog harvesting in South Africa (the photos on this page are from that project), Chile, Peru and Tanzania.



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