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Warka Water: Biomimicry-inspired water harvesting

Water is essential to all life, but many people in the world do not have access to a regular healthy supply. For example, in Ethiopia, only 44% of the general population can access safe drinking water, a figure that drops to under 35% in rural areas. As well as the serious hydration problems, a lack of clean water and sanitation leads to the rapid spread of a range of diseases, which are responsible for over 200,000 deaths annually. Warka Water is a project that aims to partly tackle this challenge in rural areas taking inspiration from the water gathering strategies of nature in desert areas.

Warka Water project
Warka Water project

Designed as a tool that can capture water from the air, Warka Water (WW) is a piece of architecture, which is particularly effective when place in detached mountainous areas, where conventional pipelines and wells are not options. A vertical and portable structure, WW takes advantage of the water contained in air collecting an estimated 100 litres of clean drinking water every day through rain, fog and dew.

The design structure is based upon a number of natural inspirations, including the Namib desert beetle’s shell, the leaves of the lotus flower, cactus fog collection systems and the threads of spider webs. The structure costs $1000 to construct initially, but is easy to maintain, requires no electricity to produce or run and uses almost exclusively bio-sourced materials.

The architecture is deliberately designed to be a central point for the community, who own and are empowered to maintain the WW, which provides cool shade. This purpose also aligns with the project’s name, the Warka Tree is a giant wild fig tree native to Ethiopia, which has traditionally played an important role in the country’s culture, providing fruit and serving as a community gathering place.

Find out more about the Warka Water project.


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Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]