There are many places around the world where finding clean drinking water is a time-consuming and even dangerous daily task, with women and children walking for miles at a stretch to bring back what they can find -- and often, it's water that's been contaminated by human and animal waste.
Inspired by a native Ethiopian fig tree symbolizing fertility and generosity, Italian design firm Architecture and Vision created the dew-collecting WarkaWater Towers to help locals gain access to clean and abundant water at minimal cost and impact to the environment.
Measuring almost 30 feet tall and weighing 88 pounds, these latticed structures are made out of juncus or bamboo stalks and outfitted on the interior with a plastic mesh textile that collects condensation from the air, funnelling it down into a small reservoir at the base of the tower.
The tower's design is a response to the cost-prohibitive and destructive option of drilling water wells. Each tower can be easily assembled by a team of four villagers in under a week, using materials that are found locally, and costing about USD $550, according to Wired.
Each structure can harvest up to 100 litres or 26 gallons of water per day, freeing women and girl children up to attend school, or to learn other valuable skills to break the cycle of poverty, instead of walking for hours to fetch water. Though it was created using digital, parametric design tools, the tower's use of natural materials helps it to blend into its environment, says designer Arturo Vittori:
To make people independent, especially in such a rural context it’s synonymous of a sustainable project and guaranties the longevity. Using natural fibers helps the tower to be integrated with the landscape both visually with the natural context as well as with local traditional techniques.
WarkaWater is also meant to be a long-term solution that would allow locals to be more independent of international aid for the growing water crisis:
WarkaWater is designed to provide clean water as well as ensure long-term environmental, financial and social sustainability. Once locals have the necessary know how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the WarkaWater towers.
Vittori is aiming to build two of these towers in Ethiopia by 2015, and hopes to implement more in other parts of Africa with more funding. More over at Architecture and Vision.