Aqualonis: making water from fog

Fog nets on Mount Boutmezguida

Here on the edge of the Sahara in South Western Morocco, the Anti-Atlas mountains receive less than 5.2 inches of rainfall a year, barely ten percent of the global average, which makes this one of the driest place in Morocco and is prone to severe droughts. In this region 60% of people do not have running water in their homes, and the water may not be safe for drinking. The lack of water and severe drought have made farming unpredictable, as a result men are forced to search for work in the cities, whilst women remain in the villages and walk for 3 miles a day to wells to access safe drinking water. Unfortunately these wells are now drying up because ground water levels are plummeting.

Currently around 40 percent of the world’s population faces water shortage. That includes some two billion without safe drinking water, despite the fact the planet is covered by 70% water bodies Only 3% of the world’s water is actually freshwater and two-thirds of this is unavailable for us to access because it is tucked away in frozen glaciers. However a new innovative technology is turning water scarcity around bringing safe drinking water to the Sahara region in south west Morocco, turning desertified land back into a farmland oasis.

Thanks to Aissa Derhem the president of the Moroccan NGO Dar Si Hmad, fertility in the western Sahara is being restored. Aissa Derhem is a mathematician and businessman whose parents were originally from Mount Boutmezguida in the Anti Atlas mountains near the coastal town of Sidi Ifni, where the slopes are covered in mist on average 130 days a year. Despite the lack of rain Aissa Derhem knew that he could create water from the fog. Whilst living in Canada in the 1980s Aissa Derhem was studying for his PhD. He learned about fog collection in Chile’s Atacama Desert one of the first projects in the world to collect water from nets. However it would have to be using slightly new technology that could withstand the strong winds that come off the Atlantic oceans.

The German Water Foundation known as Wasserstiftung, have created a new innovative technology known as Aqualonis, formally known as CloudFisher, to catch safe drinking water with fog nets that can withstand winds of 120km and have higher water yields than other types of fog nets.

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