The U.N. states that a country with less than 1,700 cubic meters of water per person is in a water stress situation. It defines less than 1,000 cubic meters as water scarcity and less than 500 cubic meters as “absolute scarcity.” Morocco currently has around 620 cubic meters per person, setting the stage for a close-up, face-to-face meeting with absolute scarcity. However, an NGO in Morocco, Dar Si Hmad, has taken an innovative approach to tackle water scarcity by installing CloudFishers in rural areas.
Peter Trautwein, a German industrial designer, came up with the project in 2012, and since then, Dar Si Hmad and others worldwide have adopted it. The CloudFisher is a 600 square meters net in humid places that collects water from fog and moist air. The idea originated from ancient traditions of people in the Canary Islands that collected water by digging holes beside mountain trees that would drip water from fog and moist air collection.
The design is a meticulously crafted net structure that blocks fog and collects water. Fog contains water droplets ranging from 1 to 40 micrometers, so the net must be thoughtfully designed and correctly installed to ensure the successful attachment of the droplets. While fog can technically be collected from anywhere, the CloudFisher net has been found to be more efficient in mountainous regions due to the increased amount of water present.
Aït Baâmrane Community
The targeted individuals are mainly Berber or Amazigh tribes in western Morocco who live in nomadic villages bordering the desert. Dr. Aissa Derhem, the president of Dar Si Hmad and a native of Aït Baâmrane, knows the area and the people well. Currently, Dar Si Hmad provides water for five villages and over 90 families, with plans to expand its reach and provide for as many people as possible.
In these villages, it is common for women and children to walk up to 5 kilometers early in the morning to fetch water from wells. These wells are typically insecure water sources as they are open and lack filtering or purifying processes. The water from these wells may be contaminated, posing health risks to the lower class of Morocco and endangering the national economy, as agriculture accounts for about 20% of the GDP.
In rural areas of western Morocco, individuals from villages consume an average of 8 liters of water per person per day. Urban communities, however, use up to 85 liters of water per person per day, more than 10 times the amount of rural areas. The CloudFishers project aims to increase rural water consumption to 30 liters per person per day. Dar Si Hmad has established pipelines to transport water to the villages and reservoirs to store excess water.
The pipelines are monitored and water is filtered, though fog water is completely potable, it ensures water is not contaminated on the way to the reservoir.
Dar Si Hmad, More Than Water Heroes
Apart from the CloudFisher project, Dar Si Hmad also provides the communities with educational programs, including the water school and the functional literacy workshops and empowerment. These two programs target the same beneficiaries as the CloudFishers. The water school, which is supported by the Ministry of Education of Morocco, raises awareness among communities about water scarcity and resource management.
Children get to work with school gardens and learn about the importance of water conservation. The functional literacy workshops and empowerment focus on literary programs for women, who are also beneficiaries of the CloudFishers and empower them through education, taking advantage of the extra time they have after not having to walk hours to get water.
As desertification increases and droughts happen more often, Berber tribes in the west of Morocco are threatened by water shortages and insecurity. Dar Si Hmad is fighting for education, effective water scarcity management and women empowerment in rural Morocco through different educational campaigns and the CloudFisher fog projects. The CloudFisher fog projects’ innovative technology allows rural areas of Morocco to access clean drinking water, therefore boosting the overall welfare of the communities while being an exemplary organization for others worldwide.
– Sebastián Garcés