Yemenis battle water shortages using an unlikely resource: fog

Published February 14th, 2016 - 10:17 GMT
War-torn Yemen has plenty of fog, which is proving to be an asset in reclaiming much-needed water. (Flickr/Rod Waddington)
War-torn Yemen has plenty of fog, which is proving to be an asset in reclaiming much-needed water. (Flickr/Rod Waddington)

The Yemeni people are facing tough times: a civil conflict and airstrikes, scarce food and water due to a blockade on imports, and limited access to humanitarian aid. But Yemenis are harnessing one resource the war can't take away: fog.

Before the war, Yemen was already beset with longstanding water issues. The country's annual rainfall is only about 900 cubic meters, falling short some 25 percent of what it needs, according to data from Sanaa University. Poor infrastructure meant many had to travel for hours to get water, and Sanaa is at risk for running out of water as soon as next year.

But Yemen also has plenty of fog, and villagers are experimenting with ways to "harvest" the fog from the air and turn it back into water.

Villagers can capture moisture from the air using mesh screens which condense the fog as it passes through. The latest fog-harvesting project, which was managed by the UNDP and Yemen's National Foundation for Watershed Management until Dec. 2014, installed 200 screens in the Manakha Mount area. Since then, the local community has taken over, harvesting over 40 liters of water per screen each day.

And at $15 a screen, the fog condensing screens are a relatively affordable solution that could improve living conditions for millions around the country.


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