A tower to collect potable water from the air
Non-profit Warka Water designed a vertical structure made of simple materials like polyester mesh and bamboo to collect and harvest potable water from the air.
In developing countries like Ethiopia, the spread of diseases is often perpetuated by the lack of clean water and sanitation systems. People often have to travel long distances to fetch water, the quality of which is often poor due to animal or human contamination, causing many children to die of illnesses like diarrhoea.
The Warka Tower functions as an alternative source of water for rural populations that have limited access to drinkable water. The project is inspired by nature: insects and plants that have developed the capability of collecting and storing water from the air. The installation also makes use of local craftsmanship and construction techniques, vernacular architecture and forgotten traditions.
The design is based on the fact that air always contains a certain amount of water vapour, no matter the local ambient temperatures and humidity conditions. Locations with high rates of fog are the best places to install the tower. The aim is to collect 40 to 80 litres (10 to 20 gallons) of drinking water every day.
Since 2012, the non-profit has been experimenting with designs and constructed 12 full-scale prototypes to test different materials with varying environmental conditions. All the materials used are biobased and/or recyclable, and include bamboo, hemp rope, and polyester mesh and cable. The project uses as much local materials as possible, and the tower can be constructed using simple tools, without the need for scaffolding of electricity.
The tower functions only by natural phenomena such as gravity, condensation and evaporation.
The project takes its name from the Warka Tree, a giant, wild fig tree native to Ethiopia. According to Warka Water,”Like the tree, the Warka Tower serves as important cornerstone for the local community, becoming part of the local culture and ecosystem by providing its fruits, shade and offering a gathering place.”
Photos: Warka Water