A Ground-breaking Project: Harvesting Water from Fog

Major Highlights:

THE LARGEST OF ITS KIND

The largest functioning fog collection project in the world, our system has brought positive transformations to the communities, particularly the women, and the environment.

CUTTING-EDGE CLOUDFISHER TECHNOLOGY

Being the host to a revolutionary step in fog-collection technology, the CloudFisher designed by engineer Peter Trautwein, volunteer to the Wasserstiftung Foundation, and CEO of Aqualonis, have proven to be highly effective after an extended experimental period carried at our site Boutmezguida.

FIGHTING THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Our system is a forerunner in climate adaptation, the use of fog as a resource, with particular focus on supporting women in their role as water-guardians.

ADOPTING A HOLISTIC APPROACH

Dar Si Hmad participates in R&D in engineering, climate monitoring, while maintaining a close partnership with its beneficiary community.

INCREASED VISIBILITY

The fog project has brought interest and a greater national and international visibility to the often overlooked region of Ait Baâmrane and Southwest Morocco.

A MOUNTAINTOP FOG OBSERVATORY

Dar Si Hmad founded a Fog Research Center atop Mount Boutmezguida to ensure continuous scientific watch of fog and the nets.

RECOGNIZED BY MANY PRIZES

The fog-collection project has been recognized nationally and internationally by many prizes and distinctions.

REWARDED FOR ITS MODEL MANAGEMENT

Dar Si-Hmad has been particularly recognized for its close-partnership with the beneficiary-participating communities.

ORGANIZING 1ST EVER FOG-FOCUS MUSIC EVENT

In September 2019, Dar Si Hmad organized a musical and multi-media residency “Rhizomes,” fog sounds, Raiss Ribab, and natural painting with grand performance “Brouill-art” to the grand public.

Drinking Fog is the winner of many prizes and distinctions:


 

In 2019:

  • The Global Energy Award, Category Water Espoo, Finland
  • Finalist to the LiveTogether contest, South Korea 
  • Expo Dubai2020, Financial support for the extension of the fog-collection project to new communities 

 

In 2018:

  • Access to essential services, Prize from Fondation Suez & Institut de France, Paris, France
  • Hassan II Prize for the Environment, Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, responsible for Sustainable Development, Morocco
  • Prize of Tamayuz (distinction), for the competition of “Initiatives in favor of rural women” organized by the Ministry of the Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development, Morocco

In  2017

  • Finalist for the Equator Prize, United Nations
  • Prize of Sustainable Education, International Education Organization GoAbroad.com, USA 

 

In 2016:

  • UNFCC Momentum for Change in September 2016, Prize at the occasion of the COP22 held in Marrakech, Morocco
  • Trophy Initiative Climat Afrique Francophone COP22
  • Prize ADEME, France COP22
  • Social science Prize, Fog Symposium, Poland
  • Selection of the project to participate in the Climate Day organized by the French Embassy in Morocco, Casablanca October 1st, 2016

 

At the launch of the project: 

  • Butterfly Effect Association Prize awarded by the National School of Commerce and Management-Agadir ENCG, 2015
  • Ecological Prize at the Ecological Fair, Agadir, May 2013

Social Context of the Project:


Scarce water, compromised wells, and climate change-induced droughts have destabilized traditional Amazigh communities and have created added burdens on women.

Traditional water-management in this region was predicated on parsimonious water use; people used to hand-dig wells and build cisterns for rainwater catchment to meet their needs. Modern techniques for finding water using drilling machines to reach water stored deep in aquifers cause pollution, are expensive, and are unsustainable. Given the increasing cycles of drought, the scarcity of rain, and low aquifer recharge rates, fog has become an excellent, reliable, sustainable, and supplemental water resource that relieves pressure on aquifers and wells.

The communities of the region, like many other geographically similar areas, are suffering from great anxiety concerning the lack of water and the recurrence of droughts. Rural poor families in Aït Baâmrane live in ecologically fragile zones where water is scarce, topsoil is eroded, and drought is on the rise. Vulnerable populations and fragile zones overlap, producing added burdens on the residents.

Women, in particular, were devoting 3.5 hours daily to the chore of fetching water. Given the lack of rainfall (<112 mm / year), water was a major concern for survival especially during the dry season, not only for humans, but for livestock and for the biotope in general. In response, many households migrated to cities, and sold their livestock. Cultural heritage and ancient practices including Tashelheet (The Amazigh language) were no longer handed down; flora and Argan trees deteriorated because of lack of pruning and maintenance.

Today, with water delivered to households, the impact is measurable. The main beneficiaries of the project are:

  • The Aït Baâmrane communities, especially women and young girls (16 villages, about 1000 permanent residents, in addition to the migrant population that return in the summer and/or during the harvest season of the Argan trees and Prickly pears);
  • The local environment (flora and fauna) with increased water for plants and soil, and the region in general thanks to media coverage that the project continues to receive;
  • The local associations and civil society as they were inspired by the project and with whom we are currently organizing a transfer of knowledge;
  • The fog itself, which is seen increasingly as a viable source for water through research and development of our partners and thanks to our academic engagement with Universities ;
  • Beneficiary Children who learn from hands-on, innovative teaching they receive at our Water and Oasis School;

The men and women of Aït Baâmrane who participate in our pedagogical Initiative of Agdal Ibrahim Id Aachour, a model farm teaching agro-ecology or dry and semi-dry region regions.

Boutmezguida: More than a Decade Long Engagement

The fog-collecting nets were  erected by Dar Si Hmad atop Mount Boutmezguida, (29°12’30”N – 10° 01’30”W, 1225 m d’altitude), located in the Aït Baamrane territory of Southwest Morocco for a specific reason. This area, on the edge of the Sahara and some 35 km from the Atlantic Ocean, is classified as pre-Saharan, with an arid climate and low rainfall (annual average of 112 mm). Although its drought is endemic, its frequency and intensity have increased since the 1980s. A hot Saharan wind called the Chergui sometimes blows over the region and dries it even further. However, while Southwest Morocco is water-poor, abundant fog drapes the area six months of the year, for a total of 143 days and it is this harvested-fog that Dar Si Hmad delivers as drinking-water to the community.

Histogram:

2006
Launch of an observation period for evaluation of water potential in Boutmezguida
2011
Validation of the results
June 2011 to June 2014
Construction of 600 m² nets on top of Mt. Boutmezguida
November 2013
Launch of the pilot phase, with our German partners, Wasserstiftung, testing the new generation of fog-catching nets
September 2014 to March 2015
Construction of all piping and connection of all pilot douars
March 21, 2015
Official inauguration of the project (large media coverage) and the beginning of access to drinking water from fog Starting this date, fog-water flows into the households
October 2015
Finalizing of the pilot phase of the new generation of nets, dabbed CloudFisher by the Water Foundation
December 2015
Study and validation of results, launch fundraising
May 2016
BMZ (German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the MunichRe Foundation grant funds to our German partners, the Wasserstiftung to expand the CloudFishers in the Boutmezguida site with 1700 m2
September 2016
Launching of the CloudFishers and the retiring of the Fog-Collectors
January 2017
Start of construction of CloudFishers, in all 16 villages to be supplied with drinking water - Ongoing engagement with the community, men, women and children and support from the County Tnine Amellou
November 2018
2nd official inauguration but this time of CloudFishers with the participation of all of our German partners, the community,and local officials
March 2020
Local manufacturing of CloudFishers pillars, and preparation for launching works in a new region of the Anti-Atlas, Taloust and projection to connect 12 new villages - Continuous engagement with the community, men, women and children

In addition, a whole series of infrastructures have been built in the region including pipelines, storage tanks and the onset of a series of control-processes so that water flows to households in a sustained and sustainable manner. The quality of the water delivered is checked at regular intervals.

Major Achievements

Women actively participate and become involved and enthusiastic project supporters despite strong traditional constraints during the project launch;

Water availability allows poor farmers to keep their livestock which they previously might have sold during increasingly frequent droughts that lower the water table, driving farmers into vicious cycles of poverty;

Men, women, and children are proud to be the custodians of this unique project and open their homes to journalists and visitors;

The project serves to stabilize the role of water in the environment and for the population, and to inspire greater stewardship of the environment;

Delivery of fog water significantly reduced women’s laborious water-gathering chores and helps to foster stable communities, continuation of ancestral languages, and ways of living and thriving in local environments;

Potable water is delivered to the households and everyone contributes to the maintenance of the system by regularly paying water fees;
High visibility in the region as well as new, increased attention to rural and arid landlocked regions;

Water-gathering chores took up to 3.5 hours/day and often interrupted, or prevented, girls from regularly attending school; this is now a practice of the past;

Children, beneficiaries of our Water School, are given an environmental education and become ambassadors of the environment contributing to the preservation of natural resources;
An active process of adaptation to climate change;
Contribution to the growing trend of considering fog as valid alternative resource for water in arid regions.

The Anthropological Dimension of Fog

Fog is not only a natural phenomenon, it is interpreted and lived by humans, who give it an identity and ascribe it with a role. The cultural ecology of the Aït Baâmrane region reveals that fog, Tagut, is essentially negative: it prevents precipitation, causes humidity which rusts plowing and other equipment, wets livestock and sometimes makes passage to pastures slippery and dangerous. The fog also produces moisture, asemidd, making humans easily fall sick and, therefore, be prey to a “cold,” potentially leading to more serious disease. Symbolically, fog denotes a state of non-clarity, confusion, and loss of visual and other references. The idea of lack of visibility causes great discomfort both physically and culturally. In many ways, fog is not considered to carry positive charge.  Community members initially doubted that fog was a safe source of water. Through continuous community training and trust-building, residents now welcome this steady, clean water supply. Women, who are traditional water-guardians, were hesitant to participate in managing the water system, but through user-centered design approaches, Amazigh women now manage the water system with their mobile phones to send SMS messages about its status.

With the positive results of the Boutmezguida project, witnessing with their own eyes water created from fog, women and men started to accept fog and see it as a vital life force. For DSH this is one of the major transformations brought about by this project. Today, Tagut is valued as a resource.

A Map for the Future


Where there is fog, there is the potential of using it, but at a human and community scale. Thanks to our partner The Wasserstiftung (which also operates two similar projects, one in Eritrea and the second in Ghana), we acquired the new generation of nets, CloudFisher, whose performance is much higher than our previous fog collectors, requiring less maintenance (they only need to have the gutters be washed) because the nets are backed by a hard plastic structure and resist wind up to 120 km / h. 

As of March 2020, we service 16 villagers in the rural county of Tnine Amellou (please consult the provided map in the Technical Data Sheet).  We have founded a center dedicated to research on fog, the study of the local fauna and flora, their current status and continuing protection, issues facing reforestation, the transfer of the Sahara sand to America and Europe… a sum of topics to which we bring our community to the interested researchers.Thanks to our center atop Mount Boutmezguida we have a very dynamic community committed to the study of this unique environment. Fog has, also, acquired its letters of nobility as an important vector of life.

Major Players in the Fog Collection Project

The local communities, Sidi Ifni Province,  and the rural counties of Tnine Amellou, Tanguerfa, and Mesti

  • The major source of funds (by order of contribution)

 

  • Derhem Holding, Laayoune and Casablanca, Morocco
  • Promotion Nationale, Rabat, Morocco
  • Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture, Ifni, Morocco
  • USAID, Rabat, Morocco
  • The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development 
  • Munich Re Foundation, Munich, Germany
  • Hydraulic Agency of Souss-Massa, Agadir, Morocco
  • Hydraulic Agency of Guelmim Drâa Oued-Noun, Morocco
  • Ministry delegate to the Minister of Energy, Water and Environment, Rabat, Morocco
  • Provincial Directorate of Transport, Logistics and Water, Guelmim, Morocco
  • University of la Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Ambassador of Finland to Morocco
  • Global Green Grants, Colorado, USA
  • Water Lines, Santa Fe, USA
  • Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Rabat, Morocco
  • Vera Campbell Foundation, California, USA

And various individual and anonymous donors in Morocco, Germany and the USA

  • Research Partners and Applied Action:
  • The Sidi Ifni Province, Morocco 
  • Tifawin Institute, Colorado, USA
  • Geography Department University de la Laguna à Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
  • National center for Research on Water and Energy, University of Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech, Morocco
  • Munich Technical University, Germany
  • Wasserstiftung, Munich, Germany
  • ATLAS Institute and Mortenson Center, Colorado University, Colorado, USA
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Massachusetts, USA