A number of African countries have struggled for years to find clean drinking water for its people. Millions of villagers have to walk miles every day looking for water, even water of dubious purity. There are a number of non-profit organizations working on the problem, digging village wells where possible, and exploring different technologies to clean the water supply.
One interesting solution is the Warka Water Tower, a 30-foot-tall tower made out of local, natural, biodegradable materials. It has an orange, water-resistant mesh on the inside that collects fog from the atmosphere. It’s cheap and easy to assemble. The Tower is designed to harvest up to 25 gallons of water a day from the atmosphere. It relies on gravity, condensation, and evaporation. And the Towers only cost about $1,000.
The jury is out as to whether or not this is a viable solution. It appears to work best when daytime and nighttime temperatures are significantly different. But the point is not only whether or not it works, it’s also about the importance of simple solutions. And finding ways to put what easily exists, or that you already have, to better use. That is an elegant solution.