wark warkaWe just came across an incredibly interesting low-tech innovation. This is the WarkaWater. The device is the brainchild of Italian designer Arturo Vittori and Swiss architect Andreas Vogler.1 The two visited Ethiopia in 2012, and witnessed first-hand, the water shortage.

Only 34 percent of Ethiopians have access to a reliable water supply. Some travel up to six hours a day to fetch some or, worse, resorts to using stagnant ponds contaminated by human waste, resulting in the spread of disease.

Worldwide, a whopping 768 million people — two and a half times the U.S. population — don’t have access to safe drinking water.2

The two set out to create a new way to alleviate the water shortages. After testing several different idea, Wittori and Vogler settled on the WarkaWater:


The WarkaWater is an ingenuous device for water collection:

WarkaWater, which is named after an Ethiopian fig tree, is composed of a 30-foot bamboo frame containing a fog-harvesting nylon net that can be easily lowered for repairs and to allow communities to measure the water level.

Collecting water through condensation is hardly a new technique, but the creators of WarkaWater say their tree-inspired design is more effective, maximizing surface and optimizing every angle to produce up to 26 gallons of drinkable water a day — enough for a family of seven.3

There have been a ton of water harvesting devices proposed over the years, but most of them fall down in one or two areas. Firstly, these devices are often incredibly expensive, in terms of the local market. Further, they are often complicated, and require skilled workers to set them up. The WarkaWater stands out for these reasons:

Each water tower costs $550…and its creators say the price will drop significantly if they start mass-producing it. The structure takes three days and six people to install and doesn’t call for any special machinery or scaffolding.4

Though it still will be sometime before any WarkaWater is setup in Ethiopia, it looks to be a perfect water collecting device for the region. For more info, check out NPR’s write up on the WarkaWater.

  1. Laura Secorun Palet, NPR.com, “A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air,” 26 May 2014.  
  2. Laura Secorun Palet, NPR.com, “A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air,” 26 May 2014.  
  3. Ibid  
  4. Ibid