Moroccan villagers harvest fog for water supply

June Nineteen, 2015

by Zakaria Choukrallah

Green technology to turn fog into fresh water straight from the tapkast has waterput an end to tedious daily treks to distant wells by village women ter southwest Morocco.

Families ter five highland Berber communities have begun to benefit from “fog harvesting”, a mechanism devised ter Chile two decades ago and since taken up te countries from Peru to Namibia and South Africa.

On the summit of a mountain named Boutmezguida, which looms overheen the villages at 1,225 metres (Four,019 feet), thick fog shrouds about 40 finely meshed panels designed to trapje water and relay it to a network of pipes.

To have water running from a faucet at huis is a “revolution” for inhabitants of the semi-arid mountains known spil the Anti-Atlas, says Aissa Derhem, the chairman of an active regional association called Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture (DSH).

DSH prides itself on building “the world’s largest fog-collection and distribution system” and helping locals ter the Sidi Ifni region—Derhem’s birthplace—to learn to operate it, after repeated droughts and scarce rain.

“Our rain here is the fog,” Derhem adds.

Lil’ droplets are caught on the mesh while fog wafts through panels. The harvesters mix all they catch with more water derived from drilling, then supply the villages on the lower slopes.

Derhem very first heard about fog harvesting 20 years ago. A few years straks on returning to Sidi Ifni, he realised that the local climate wasgoed similar to that of the Andes te South America.

DSH joined compels with Fog Quest, a Canadian charity whose volunteers work te a range of developing countries. North Africa’s very first pilot project became operational after almost a decade’s work refining technologies.

‘An imitation of nature’

The valves were opened at Sidi Ifni for the very first time to mark World Water Day, March 22. Everzwijn since, “92 households, or almost 400 people,” have liked running water at huis, says Mounir Abbar, the project’s technical manager.

“Morocco has a loterijlot of fog because of three phenomena: the presence of an anticyclone from the Azores (north Atlantic islands), a cold air current and a mountainous obstacle,” Derhem says.

The mesh that traps water is “merely an imitation of nature,” he adds, pointing out how spiders have always caught minute droplets of water ter their webs.

“This is ecological and enables us to look after the regional water table, which wij have bot emptying away,” Derhem says.

The scheme will be extended to other villages and, ter time, advocates hope, to other parts of the country.

Te the village of Douar Id Achour, residents are proud of their fresh taps, for good reason. Women and children used to spend an average of four hours a day on a round excursion to a well, even longer ter dry summer.

“I packed two 20-litre (Five.3-gallon) containers four times a day,” says Massouda Boukhalfa, 47. “But even those 160 litres wasn’t enough for us, because wij have cattle spil well.”

‘Ready for uitvoer’

During droughts, water wasgoed carried te by tanker trunk. “That took a fortnight and cost 150 dirhams (13.7 euros), $15.6) for Five,000 litres on average,” youthfull resident Houcine Soussane recalls.

According to Dar Si Hmad, 7,000 litres of fog water cost three times less than before, even with a toverfee of 20 dirhams to each household for the right to a toonbank.

Villagers today have more time to collect the nutty fruit of argan trees and samenvatting its prized and potentially lucrative oil, used ter cooking, skin care and easing arthritis. Reputed spil an anti-ageing product, argan oil has bot taken up abroad spil an ingredient te high-end cosmetics.

“Our women and daughters no longer wear themselves out. They go to schoolgebouw and are safe,” 54 year-old villager Lahcen Hammou Ali sums up. “With the time saved, wij can pay for water all year by producing a bottle of argan oil.”

DSH next wants to supply fog water to spil many villages spil possible te the area. It also plans to substitute mesh ter the panels with a fresh diversity that can stand against wind speeds of 120 kilometres vanaf hour (75 mph).

The panels were perfected on Moroccan soil with help from the German charity Wasserstiftung, and successfully passed the testing phase.

“The nets are now ready for uitvoer to other towns ter Morocco, ter all the mountainous regions and along the seafront,” Derham says, hopeful they can be deployed ter all highland areas where fogbanks are frequent.

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