Our Story

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Visiting small isolated communities up on high plateau in the North East region of Ethiopia, we witnessed this dramatic reality: the lack of potable water. The villagers live in a beautiful natural environment but often without running water, electricity, a toilet or a shower. To survive here, women and children walk everyday for miles towards shallow and unprotected ponds, where the water is often contaminated with human and animal waste, parasites, and diseases. They collect the water using dry carved pumpkins and carry the water back in old plastic containers, which are extremely heavy.
Recent studies show that only 34% of Ethiopia’s population has access to an improved water supply. This implies that approximately 60 million people lack safe water.
To help improve this dramatic situation, we made it our mission to find a solution and help these people with Warka Water (WW): An environmentally, socially and financially sustainable solution to potable water.

Project

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Warka Water is an alternative water source to rural population that faces challenges in accessing drinkable water. It is first and foremost an architecture project. WW should not be considered as the solution to all water problems in developing countries but rather as a tool that can provide clean water in selected areas, particularly in mountainous regions where conventional pipelines will never reach and where water is not available from wells. These remote communities, often with limited financial means, struggle to find reliable supplies of clean water for the people, the animals and for agriculture.

WW is designed to be owned and operated by the villagers, a key factor that should help guarantee the success of the project. WW not only provides a fundamental resource for life – water – but also creates a social place for the community, where people can gather under the shade of its canopy for education and public meetings.

Context

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The root cause of Ethiopia’s major health problems is the spread of diseases perpetuated by the lack of clean water and sanitation systems. Only 44% of the general population has access to safe drinking water, and merely 34% in rural areas (WHO/UNICEF March 2012). Water quality is severely poor and often contaminated by human and animal waste. The impact of poor water quality on the health of communities is shocking – approximately 54,000 children die each year directly from diarrheal diseases and 217,000 more die from related illnesses, such as malnutrition, pneumonia and malaria (UNICEF February 2012).

The Claim

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Air always contains a certain amount of water, irrespective of local ambient temperatures and humidity conditions. This makes it possible to produce water from air almost anywhere in the world. Locations with high rates of aerosol and humidity are best to install WW.
WW is a vertical structure designed to harvest potable water from the atmosphere (it collects rain, harvests fog and dew), it is estimated to collect up to 26.4 gal (100 L) of drinking water every day.

The Name

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The name of the project ‘Warka’ comes from the Warka Tree, which is a giant wild fig tree native to Ethiopia. It constitutes a very important part of the local culture and ecosystem by providing its fruit and a gathering place for the community.

As Seen In

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Warka Water has received widespread interest from many international organizations and has been featured on several magazines and blogs. To receive the detailed list of the publications or the press kit please write a request to Press.