The Warka’s water harvesting technique and construction system are inspired by several sources. Many plants and animals have developed unique micro- and nano-scale structural features on their surfaces that enable them to collect water from the air and survive in hostile environments. By studying the Namib beetle’s shell, lotus flower leaves, spider web threads and the integrated fog collection system in cactus, we are identifying specific materials and coatings that can enhance dew condensation and water flow and storage capabilities of the mesh.
The termite hives have influenced the design of Warka’s outer shell, its airflow, shape and geometry. We also looked at local cultures and vernacular architecture, incorporating traditional Ethiopian basket-weaving techniques in Warka’s design.
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.
HOW IT FUNCTIONS
Warka Water relies only on natural phenomena such us gravity, condensation & evaporation and doesn’t require electrical power. It is a vertical structure designed to harvest potable water from the atmosphere (it collects rain, harvests fog and dew). Warka Water is designed to be owned and operated by the villagers, a key factor that will facilitate the success of the project. The tower 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.
FROM THE START TO THE FUTURE
WW design and development activities have been mainly conducted at the Architecture and Vision labs, in Italy. Since we started with the WW projects we have built several full scale prototypes and conducts several experiments.
A number of 12 prototypes have been constructed to date and WW has been assembled and constructed for test, demonstration, exhibition in several countries such as: Italy, France, Germany, Ethiopia, Brazil and Lebanon.
We have drafted a business plan for the next 5 years, where each year is divided into 2 semesters and marked by the letter (S). The semesters with the (✓) symbol delineate what has been achieved thus far, and the semester with the green mark indicates the current phase, which will be achieved with the help of this campaign. We have also planned subsequent phases of work, among which are the launch of 3 field tests and 3 larger pilots, and monitoring test results, before large-scale production.
In 2019, once the project is completed, we plan to start the large-scale production of WW. Moreover, specific training courses will be organized for the inhabitants of the village to construct, use and maintain the WW. We hope to invigorate the local economy through manufacturing activities and give children opportunities to invest their time in more productive activities and education. We believe that WW can be a stepping-stone that empowers communities to build greater independence.
NATURAL FIBER ROPES
Warka Water mainly uses local natural and biodegradable materials. It is a temporarily structure designed to not leave traces on the environment after removal and therefore doesn’t require excavation or ground modification works for set-up. The Warka doesn’t extract water from the ground. In addition to drinking water, the water generated by the Warka tower can be used for irrigation, reforestation, and ecosystem regeneration.
As part of training local villagers, we plan to institute a water management program that teaches the best practices of using, distributing, and recycling harvested water. Through this program, we hope the villagers can understand our relationship with the environment and move away from the “slash-and-burn” agriculture, which is responsible for deforestation.
LONG TERM RESULTS
The Warka Water project is currently in development with first test pilots scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2015. We believe that installing the Warka tower in remote villages can lead to numerous impactful initiatives.
– Education: Women and children can engage in productive activities such as care, education and crafts that can lead to self-sufficiency
– Economy: Manufacturing the Warka tower locally and sourcing indigenous materials can create jobs and boost the local economy
– Society: The Warka tower’s canopy creates a gathering place for the community
– Agriculture: Water produced by the Warka tower can be used for irrigation and farming
– Environment: the water management training program can introduce the principles of permaculture
– Technology: Future developments include a shared internet connection point for rural villages, which can connect the isolated communities and bring valuable real-time information (e.g., weather forecast, market prices of crops)