When Italian architect Arturo Vittori was visiting rural communities in Ethiopia, the magnitude of the water crisis in the country struck him.
In this region, people spend around 40 billion hours a year in search of water, and for some, finding potable water can take as much as six hours. And even if water is found, it is often not safe, and is contaminated with infectious bacteria and other such elements.
Vittori’s non-profit Warka Water exists to mitigate this very issue. Under its ambit, he has created the Warka Tower. This low-cost bamboo tower, which is 9.5 metres high and weighs about 80 kg, has been designed to wring water from the air and atmosphere.
The parametric design is lightweight with a simple yet innovative concept. A thin mesh spreads over the frame, which attracts water vapour from the atmosphere. This water then condenses against the mesh and flows into a reservoir. To combat the problem of evaporation, there is a canopy at the bottom that shades the lower sections. Various materials are being experimented with to ensure maximum efficiency. Moreover, the tower can be easily assembled and operated by users, thus making it flexible in nature and a handy option in places where water is scarce.
On a daily basis, the tower provides 100 litres of water to various villages. The design is now being implemented in Haiti, Madagascar, Columbia, Brazil, India, and Sumba as well.
The name ‘Warka’ is derived from the giant fig tree native to Ethiopia. Like the tree, the group aims ‘to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the community.’
The story and inspiration behind the non-profit is inspiring.
Arturo says the lack of potable water, along with the dearth of functional toilets and electricity in Ethiopia had compelled him to come up with a solution. Meanwhile, the United Nations states that nearly 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries, while 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during one month in the year.
Warka Water’s sustainable projects aim to find solutions to these very woes and incorporate natural elements in their designs to meet the basic needs of people living in rural areas.
Meanwhile, Warka Water also empowers local ethnic groups and helps them improve their natural ecosystem by setting up clinics to improve healthcare, providing services that will improve the living environment of the people, and more.
The projects undertaken by the group span different domains. For instance, Warka Houses is a sustainable housing development programme wherein homes are built using natural materials. These 24 square metre spaces can house a family of seven, and provide hygienic conditions, rainproof roofs, insulated floors, and comfort.
Food needs of local communities are seen through initiatives such as Warka Gardens, where local communities sustain by growing their own food. Warka Solar uses green power to provide electricity to rural areas through solar technology.
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