Dar Si Hmad (DSH) has built the world’s largest fog-collection and distribution system to serve rural, landlocked indigenous communities in the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Southwest Morocco. Scarce water, compromised wells and climate change-induced droughts have destabilized traditional Amazigh communities and have created heavy burdens on marginalized women. But while Southwest Morocco is water-poor, abundant fog drapes the area 6 months/year. Fog collection is an ancient system to collect clean water in a non-invasive, ecologically friendly way in regions where fog abounds. In Phase 1, DSH has installed 600 square meters of fog nets, solar water pumps and 8km of pipes, to now deliver potable water to +400 rural Berber people that have never had running water.
Delivery of fogwater significantly reduces women’s laborious water-gathering chores, and help foster stable communities, continuation of ancestral languages and ways of living in thriving local environments. Specifically, water-gathering chores took up to 3.5 hours/day and often interrupted, or prevented, girls from regularly attending school. And, water availability allows poor farmers to keep their livestock which they previously might have sold during increasingly frequent droughts that lowered the water table, forcing livestock sales and driving farmers into cycles of poverty.
The project faced cultural and mechanical challenges. Community members initially doubted that fog was a safe source of water. Through continuous community training and trust-building, residents now welcome this steady, clean water supply. Also, women, who are traditional water-guardians, were at first hesitant to participate in managing the water system, but through user-centered design approaches, Amazigh women now manage the water system by using their mobile phones to send SMS messages about the water system. Infrastructure challenges included severe landscapes, searing heat, extreme wind and difficult access. DSH is now experimenting with next-generation nets that can withstand harsh conditions and increase fogwater yield.
Rural poor families in Aït Baamrane live in ecologically fragile zones where water is scarce, topsoil is eroded, and drought is on the rise. Vulnerable populations and fragile zones overlap, producing added burdens on the residents.
Traditional water-management in this region was predicated on parsimonious water use; people used to hand-dig wells and build cisterns for rain-water catchment to meet their survival needs. Modern techniques for finding water with drilling machines reaching deep aquifer waters are expensive and unsustainable. Given the increasing cycles of drought, the scarcity of rain and low aquifer re-charge rates, fog is an excellent, reliable, sustainable supplemental water resource that relieves pressure on aquifers and wells.
The fogwater harvesting system is an example of integrated water resource management (IWRM) which considers water resources as integral to the ecosystem as well as social and economic goods. DSH’s fogwater project includes participatory water management to support interconnected uses of water for agriculture, healthy ecosystems, human consumption and livelihoods. The fog project alleviates water-anxiety, potable water corresponds to national health norms, there is no use of fossil energy as wells for supplemental water use sun-powered pumps, and we are now preparing a project to recycle grey water for agricultural purposes.
Since the launching of the project, the Ait Baamrane communities and Dar Si Hmad had many a partner join this adventure. On Mars 21st 2015, international day of water, Dar Si Hmad inaugurated the fog project and since December 2013, Dar Si Hmad has started a partnership with the German WasserStiftung for further Research and Development to enhance the fog-collection technology.
What Peter Trautwein and WasserStiftung have done since 2013 with the Cloud|Fisher project is to conduct a thorough and innovative pilot test that embodies the fundamental principles of sound engineering; robust experimental design, methodological data collection, state‐of‐the‐art modeling, real‐scale prototyping, on‐site implementation and honest & thorough evaluation. Through careful planning and execution, Mr. Trautwein and his team have been able to achieve nothing short of a quantum leap in the functionality of fog harvesting technology. The new prototype not only addresses structural limitations of previous designs but has dramatically increased the overall potential water yield of the system through intelligent development of the fog net system that incorporated multiple permutations of the net materials themselves. In addition to vastly improving the key aspects of the structure and nets of the system, the Cloud|Fisher system also contains innovative component design to improve the overall effectiveness of the system for transferring water from the nets to the collection system. While many other previous and contemporary fog net designs have tended to overlook elements such as a the collection troughs, cable stays and network connections as merely incidental, Mr. Trautwein and his team have devoted a great deal of attention to these areas, which has led to a substantial increase in the overall performance of the system. (www.aqualonis.com)
– Fog Harvesting – Frequently Asked Questions
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