Desert 'fog catchers' make water out of thin air (Video)
Categories: Green, Life Stories
On the edge of the Sahara, in southwest Morocco, giant nets catch moisture from the air, turning fog into drinking water.
The technique involves a fine mesh on which tiny fog droplets -- typically 1 to 40 millionths of a meter -- gather and merge until they have enough weight to travel down into a reservoir.
Set in a dry, mountainous area, it's the world's largest functioning fog collection project, spanning 600 square meters, according to Dar Si Hmad, the women-led Moroccan NGO that runs it.
The pilot project now provides clean drinking water to 500 people in five villages, in a region that has been severely hit by climate change-induced droughts.
Four years of tests
Fog harvesting was devised in South America in the 1980s and there are active projects in various countries including Chile, Peru, Ghana, Eritrea, South Africa and California.
Efforts to bring it to Morocco started 10 years ago and the project launched in 2015, on World Water Day, after four years of testing.
"This period of observation was extremely important, because water projects can't be rushed into a social contract without a long term study, as the risks are too high," Jamila Bargach, director of Dar Si Hmad, told CNN.
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The nets, which are set at an altitude of 1,225 meters (4,000 feet), collect an average of 6,000 liters of water a day, which is first filtered for impurities before traveling through eight kilometers of piping to reach homes in the villages.
"The fog is pushed by the winds from the ocean and is trapped by the mountains -- it's stuck here -- so it's easy to empty it of its water," Bargach said of the mountains that are draped in fog for about 140 days a year.
In recognition of its unique contribution to facing the challenges of climate change, the project was awarded the 2016 United Nations "Momentum for Change" award and showcased at theUN's climate change conference, COP22, inMarrakech, Morocco.