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Monday, 7 March 2016

Fog collectors net scarce water in Kenya, but face a cloudy future

By Benson Rioba
ILMASIN, Kenya - With a thirsty and impatient boy waiting nearby, Joseph Kipalian draws water from a tank and pours it into the boy's bucket. The schoolyard water tank is fed from an unusual source: the air.
Ilmasin primary school, in the Ngong hills south of Nairobi, is outfitted with fog collectors, contraptions of huge metal and wooden poles that hold mesh-patterned nets. These trap fog droplets, which trickle into holding tanks.
The project, set up by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, aims to test the viability of harvesting fog to help provide a safe and reliable source of water in water-scarce areas. But the results have been mixed, not least because keeping the collectors up and working has proved a challenge.
Fog net at Ilmasin Primary School, Nairobi.Kenya.TRF/Benson Rioba
Bancy Mati, a soil and water engineering professor at the university, says fog collection is one of the cheapest and most environmentally friendly ways of collecting clean water.
She launched the Kenya collector after a similar project, set up by a German nongovernmental organisation, ran successfully in Tanzania. 

The region around the Ngong hills is a great place to collect water, she said, since it sees fog both in the early morning and throughout the night.
The region is semi-arid and has perpetual problems with water shortages, she said.
Fog collectors, if built at scale, could help unlock the economic potential of dry but fertile areas like Ilmasin by providing water for irrigation and livestock as well as for families, Mati said.
She hopes the collectors could be used in a range of places across Kenya, particularly Marsabit County in northern Kenya, another semi-arid region with plenty of fog.

Read the full story at Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED)

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