The idea is actually quite simple: Just like a spider web collects morning dew, large fog nets can be used to capture water from the moist air in some regions of the world where there is very little rain but abundant fog. The nets are intended to secure the drinking water supply for the local population. One of the sites chosen for such a project is the mountainous Boutmezguida region forming part of Morocco's Anti-Atlas range. The fog-collecting project carried out by Dar Si-Hmad, a local organisation, will not only supply drinking water to several hundred people but also improve the living conditions of women and children in the village community. The project was selected from among six entries from Tanzania, the Cape Verde Islands, India and Morocco following a call for proposals issued by the Munich Re Foundation to promote fog- and dew-collection projects.
Installation is under way
In a four-year trial period from 2007 to 2011, the potential of obtaining drinking water from fog was carefully explored on site using small fog collectors. Due to high atmospheric humidity (almost 90%), dense fog is frequent in the dry Anti-Atlas mountains. The fog is harvested or "milked" using special nets. Tiny droplets of condensed water form on the mesh and are collected in chutes. The method has been developed and optimised by the Canadian organisation FogQuest.
In July 2011, work started on installing the fog nets measuring some 40 square metres in size on the 1,225-metre-high Boutmezguida mountain. Each net can collect an average of 400 litres of water per day. A total of 15 nets will be installed. The water harvested on the mountain is collected in barrels. After filtering, it runs into large tanks located further down and holding up to 300 cubic metres. From there, the water is supplied to the Agni Zekri and Agni Ihya villages through pipelines. The tanks are sufficiently large to secure the water supply for the local population and their livestock over a long period of time.
If everything goes according to plan, all fog nets will be in place by the end of September 2011. Subsequently, in the second project phase, the water tanks, filtering equipment and pipeline system for the villages will be installed. These works are scheduled for completion by December 2011.
In implementing the project, Dar Si-Hmad closely cooperates not only with local community committees but also with external experts and village residents. While the erection of the nets is overseen by specialists, the tanks and pipe system will be installed by the villagers themselves. Women and children will be closely involved in monitoring and evaluation activities, and local community committees will be responsible for maintaining the nets. Involvement of the local population is key to ensuring the long-term success of the project.
This is yet another example of how small targeted projects tailored to a specific situation and with the active involvement of the local population can help improve the lives of people at risk.