June 3, 2014

The following facts were taken from “WaterAid.org”; and “Conservation.org”.

“Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. “

You remember this one from your high school days.   The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in his first edition of Lyrical Ballads.   Along with other poems in Lyrical Ballads, it was a signal shift to modern poetry and the beginning of British Romantic literature.  In the mariner’s case, the water was there but undrinkable.  What if you lived in an area where water was not there or you had to journey hours each day to fetch it?  This is the way millions of people live on a daily basis.


In some parts of our world water is in remarkably short supply.   I have said in one or two previous posts that I believe future wars will be fought over water and not necessarily oil, gold, silver, the grab for power, territory, etc.  (Of course I have been laughed at for saying this.)  The human body needs food and water to survive.  A human can go for more than three weeks without food.   Mahatma Gandhi survived twenty-one (21) daysof complete starvation, but water is a different story.  At least 60% of the adult body is made of water and every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning.Water acts as a lubricant for our joints, regulates our body temperature through sweating and respiration, and helps to flush waste.   The maximum time an individual can go without water seems to be a week — an estimate that would certainly be shorter in difficult conditions, like broiling heat.

Water scarcity already affects every continent and is both a natural and a human-made phenomenon.  There exists enough freshwater on the planet for seven billion (7) people, but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.   The term water scarcity is defined as the point at which the aggregate impact of all users impinges on the supply or quality of water under prevailing institutional arrangements to the extent that the demand by all sectors, including the environment, cannot be satisfied fully.     It is a relative concept and can occur at any level of supply or demand.  Scarcity may be a social construct (a product of affluence, expectations and customary behavior) or the consequence of altered supply patterns – stemming from climate change, for example.

Around 1.2 billionpeople, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation.  Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one -quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage.   This is where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers.

Water scarcity is among the main problems faced by many societies and the World in the twenty-first century due to usage growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century alone.    Although right now there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water.


  • Around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity.
  • By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water-stressed conditions.
  • With the existing climate change scenario, almost half the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030, including between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa. In addition, water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places will displace between 24 million and 700 million people.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of water-stressed countries of any region.
  • Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, freshwater—the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with—is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.  Groundwater is the water stored deep beneath the Earth’s surface in underground aquifers.  Another 68.6% of all freshwater is stored in glaciers and polar caps.  That leaves only 1.3% of the total freshwater on Earth in surface water sources such as lakes, rivers, and streams.  But it is surface water humans and other species rely upon for their biological needs.
  • As a result, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. Two million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.
  • Around the world, 768 million people don’t have access to safe water, and every day 1,400 children under the age of five die from water-based diseases.
  • Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. More than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others.
  • In 60 percent of European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished.  (Source: World Business Council For Sustainable Development (WBCSD))
  • Achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation would save 2.5 million lives every year.
    (WHO, Global Burden of Disease 2004 Update, Geneva: WHO, 2008)
  • Over 500,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation – that’s more than 1,400 children a day.
    (Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimate (IGME) 2014, led by UNICEF and WHO)
  • Diarrhea is the third biggest killer of children under five years old in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    (Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) 2012)
  • Every year, around 60 million children are born into homes without access to sanitation.
    (UNICEF, 2006. 
  • For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity.
    (Hutton, Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage, WHO, Geneva).

What if something could be done about the water shortage?  Something dramatic that would lessen the burden for millions of people in countries where water is a huge problem.


Designer Arturo Vittori believes the solution to this catastrophe lies not in high technology, but in sculptures that look like giant-sized objects from a furniture catalogue.  The graphic below will show the overall design of his “water tower”.  As you will see, it’s striking.


These two towers are installed and working AND producing water from atmospheric moisture.  The marvelous thing to me is the accumulation of water in the most arid climates.

Vittori and his team have worked on this specific design for two years to ensure the towers are stable, efficient and easily maintained by villagers.  Because the towers are built from locally sourced materials, villagers will be able to maintain, repair and clean the towers themselves.  Each water tower is comprised of two parts: a juncus or bamboo exoskeleton and an internal plastic mesh that has been likened to the bags oranges come in.  The nylon and polypropylene fibers act as a scaffold for condensation, and as the droplets of dew form, they follow the mesh into a basin at the base of the structure. Condensation forms on the Nylon fibers and the dew droplets follow the mesh into a water basin at the base.  The Nylon fibers look as follows:

WarWarka Mesh

His stunning water towers stand nearly thirty (30) feet tall and can collect over 25 gallons of potable water per day by harvesting atmospheric water vapor.  The collection devices are called WarkaWater towers.  These WarkaWater Towers were inspired by the local Warka tree, a large fig tree native to Ethiopia that is commonly used as a community gathering space.   Located inside is the plastic mesh material made from fibers that act as micro tunnels for daily condensation. As droplets form, they flow along the mesh pattern into the basin at the base of the towers. By harvesting atmospheric water vapor in this way, it’s estimated that at least 25 gallons of potable water can be sustainably and hygienically collected by the towers every day.

“WarkaWater is designed to provide clean water as well as ensure long-term environmental, financial and social sustainability,” he says. “Once locals have the necessary know how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the WarkaWater towers.” Each tower costs approximately $550 and can be built in under a week with a four person team and locally available materials.

The JPEG below shows a lady lacing the exoskeleton of an individual tower.

Giant Basket

Please note the amazement of the lady looking at the tower and the work the assembly person is accomplishing.

Top View of WarWarka Tower

This is the top view of the tower.  I feel it is not only utilitarian but definitely a work of art.  Obviously, remarkably functional and capable, under the right circumstances, of saving lives on a daily basis, not to mention lessening serious disease.

I welcome your comments.



  1. I’ve been browsing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.


    • cielotech Says:

      Hello Garcinia. Thank you so much for your very kind comment and I certainly do hope you come for other visits. This one was an eye-opener for me also. Take care. Bob


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