Fog-Catching Nets Are Easing the Burden on Girls and Women to Collect Water in Drought-stricken Countries

Droughts around the world, combined with heavy water consumption, are seriously stressing the fresh water supply of many places around the globe, from South Africa to Morocco to California. It’s sent many of those areas scrambling for solutions, and often that involves girls and women having to travel long distances to collect water and carry it back to their villages. But, there’s a new solution that requires no energy use and is making life much easier for those women and girls — fog-catching nets. A German company called Aqualonis has been pushing the nets for a couple years now, and for the right places, they’re making a world of difference.

But, geography has to be on your side — needy cities need to be near areas with especially dense fog, which usually means mountains or coastal areas with bodies of water nearby. If there’s enough fog to make it worth it, Aqualonis can install the CloudFisher. With the tallest standing at almost 20 feet, the CloudFisher is a huge steel mesh net, and how it works is wonderfully simple — dew from fog simply gloms onto the net, then drops down into a trough, with no electricity required.

For a while, Aqualonis’s nets were thwarted by wind — strong enough gusts would either tear the nets or cause them to bulge outward, causing some of the water to drop outside the trough. They managed to redesign the nets to stay stable in the face of 120 kph gusts, making them viable in more areas.

So far, Aqualonis only has three active projects. Large nets are in use in Qameyu, Tanzania and Aït Baamrane, Morocco, helping with drought conditions and making it far easier for local people, often women and girls, to collect water. In Morocco, the nets have more than doubled the water supply for 800 people, allowing for more agriculture in addition to less time spent collecting water.

The third project is in California, and while California could certainly use another fresh water source after coming out of a years-long drought, it’s being used for not drinking water, but vodka. Priorities! Hangar 1 Vodka bought some of Aqualonis’s smaller nets to harvest some of that famous San Francisco fog, using it to make their vodka and one heck of a marketing campaign.