Extract water from fog? We were quite enthusiastic about the idea of the organization ped World . That's why we decided to support them this year. As the first project of the GOOD WATER PROJECTS . Two giant fog nets were deployed in a small mountain village in northern Tanzania in early March, with more to follow later in the year. Thanks to the fog nets, the children at the local school finally have access to clean drinking water . Read in our travel diary what we experienced during construction.
After long weeks of planning and preparation, the first Good Water Projects project is complete. The mission: to turn fog into drinking water to improve the lives of local people a little bit.
And because it would be boring just to finance the fog collectors for the Babati region in northern Tanzania, we drive there and help with the construction on site. We, that is Kaya, Anna and Alex. Kaya the boss, Anna the media girl, Alex the photographer and cameraman. Together with the non-governmental organization ped World from Heidelberg and the local school in Endabok, we want to set up two double collectors in the immediate vicinity of the local elementary school.
The meeting point at Hamburg Airport is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. with a lot of buffer time. We fear that there are already a few hurdles waiting for us here. After all, we are traveling with several suitcases, camera equipment, material for the nets, a selection of our products, various souvenirs for on site and one or two fresh T-shirts for personal use. As it turns out, the latter are the least of the problem – 17 kilos of excess luggage! After two hours, an additional suitcase purchase, and several attempts to repack, we are then at the gate just in time. Then we can start!
In contrast to the start in Hamburg, the flight to Kilimanjaro is uncomplicated and pleasant. Dress code throughout the plane: mountaineering boots. Otherwise: A short stopover in Istanbul, lots of sleep, a few films and great expectations and anticipation. Our plane lands in Kilimanjaro at 2.45 in the morning. The air is warm and muggy. The airport is small and has only the bare essentials. We are curious. The immigration officers are reserved, focused and unfortunately not in the mood for a chat - but neither would we if we had to work at three in the morning. But everything goes smoothly. We collect our belongings, are smuggled through customs by a local lady, and meet our driver Theo, who takes us to our accommodation in Arusha, just under an hour away. It's pitch black outside, noises and smells are the only impressions we can gather on the drive over unpaved roads full of potholes and huge puddles. Everything else is left to our imagination for today. But we are convinced it must be beautiful.
Our first accommodation is the Kiboko Lodge in Arusha. Kiboko means "Hippo" in Swahili. But the hippo that once lived there has since found somewhere else to live. The Kiboko Lodge is a project of the local Watoto Foundation, which is run and maintained by former street children and Maasai living there. All income from the lodge goes to the Watoto Foundation, which gives street children an education, a task and thus a future. Good thing. We are warmly welcomed there. But now it's time to arrive. And above all sleep!
Early in the morning we are woken up by the chirping of birds, the chirping and the screeching of ibises. The night was short, but tiredness gives way to curiosity.
What we couldn't see during the night is revealed to us now and takes our breath away: the Kiboko Lodge is located in the middle of a beautiful green swamp landscape, on the Ngurdoto Crater, not far from Meru, which offers an impressive view this morning. Tanzania, you are magical!
P(e)d World has arrived at the lodge this morning and they greet each other for breakfast. Time for a few questions and answers: Who is ped World and who is behind it?
Ped World was founded by Bernd Küppers and Christina Bösenberg as a non-profit association that specializes in promoting and implementing social projects as self-help in countries of the Global South with the financial help of European companies and foundations, and acts here in a coordinating function between investors and meaningful local aid projects.
The same applies to fog collectors. Because the extraction of drinking water from fog is a new and hitherto unexploited opportunity to provide water in regions that have been particularly affected by the imbalance . And this technology has been in use and working for 20 years.
What exactly do fog nets do?
A single square meter of fog net - a special, fine-meshed net produced in Chile - filters the finest water droplets from the clouds that are driven through the nets by the wind, and harvests water volumes of five to ten liters, on peak days even over 20 liters per Day. A standard network of 40 square meters can therefore provide 200 to over 1,000 liters of drinking water per day.
We are building 2 double collectors in Endabok, ie in the best case scenario 4,000 liters of water per day will be made available at our location, ie the school and the surrounding villages. Calculated over the year, this results in a figure of 1.46 million liters of water. Can be used immediately, without filter systems. A proud number and fact and we are happy about it.
Other protagonists of our team: Innocent and Vuyo from the blogger trio I See A Different You. I See A Different You are three creative minds from South Africa on a mission to show the world a new and improved perception of Africa. The boys portray a world that doesn't portray the usual African image of poverty, disease, crime and hopelessness, but instead depicts romance, fun, a sense of style and opportunities. Not least through their own staging. And you believe them. At least when you face them. Unfortunately, Justice, Innocent's twin brother, couldn't come. Great people, great organization, great project. We are sure that the coming days will be exciting.
The day is used to arrive in Tanzania. Together. Altogether we are a group of 11 people, 3 drivers, 3 off-road vehicles. We spend the afternoon in Arusha National Park. The first zebras, flamingos and buffaloes are sighted, the first pictures are taken, the first impressions of Tanzania emerge, the mood among us is more than wonderful.
Our conclusion of the day: Tanzania is beautiful, the group is great and the local people fascinate us.
The next day starts early. And that shouldn't change in the coming days either. A short visit to Huruma Orphanage on the way to Arusha. The orphanage is one of the projects that is also supported locally by ped World. Around 20 children between the ages of 3 and 16 have found a new home there. And the mood there is good too.
After the short flying visit, the group heads to Arusha to go shopping. We are excited about the city, as we have no idea what it might look like there. After all, this is our first visit to a larger city here in Tanzania.
The materials for the fog collectors are procured on site, including screws, clamps, power pullers (a kind of pulley system), several meters of wire rope, tools and the water tanks, each with a capacity of 1000 to 2000 liters. The nets, on the other hand, are produced in Chile using a special process and delivered directly to Kilimanjaro.
Arusha itself is a bit dusty, noisy and bustling with activity and traffic. The shortage of drinking water is already visible here. Driving through the city, we see children and adults fetching water from a few black ponds or digging for water in ditches. Hardly imaginable.
In the afternoon we continue west to Babati, the region where the nets will be set up in the coming days. Babati is around 4 hours from Arusha. The drive takes us through the Maasai steppe, a wonderful landscape with at least a hundred different shades of green. Here and there the red and blue of the Maasai clothes flashes through. We can hardly get enough of these pictures.
In the early evening we reach the small village of Soleto. Soleto is part of the municipality of Dareda. In Soleto, Mama Stella hosts us in her small guesthouse, which is affiliated with the St. Joseph Vocational Center, a local school.
Mama Stella welcomes us warmly and we immediately feel at home. After a cozy and typical Tanzanian dinner we disappear into our 11 small rooms, because tomorrow the construction starts and we want to be fit!
Today the construction of the fog nets finally begins! And because the early bird sets the tone, we gather right after breakfast on the grounds of the Vocational Center to measure and cut the nets. In addition, the cars have to be loaded with all the necessary materials and the water tanks. And we have grown: the team is now a proud 16 strong. Added to this is the Tanzanian team, which normally represents the German ped World team on site, carries out site inspections and installs test collectors before the main networks are actually set up.
The nets are rolled out in long lanes on a large meadow and pulled taut to 10 meters, measured, trimmed and folded. A job for which all helping hands are needed. We need four nets for our two double collectors, which takes time. Two seamstresses will spend the day sewing the edges of the net while we prepare the constructions "up" in Endabok (2,200m above sea level).
The nets are made of polyurethane and are manufactured in Chile. The Canadian professor Robert Schemenauer already devoted himself to the idea of extracting water from fog in the early 1990s. Part of his research also dealt with the material of the nets and it took him a full ten years to discover the optimal structure of the membrane. Based on this knowledge, the nets are produced today.
Heavily laden, the journey goes over sticks, stones and potholes to Endabok, an hour away. No sign of paved roads. But that doesn't matter, it keeps you awake. On the way we make a small pit stop at the Qameyu Secondary School, which has had three double collectors for two years. After all, we would like to know how the whole thing should look when finished and in color. And convince ourselves of the success of the networks. And indeed, a 1000 l tank is filled to the brim with water! So it really works!
When we finally arrive in Endabok, we examine the site together and determine the exact dimensions and positioning of the nets. A couple of workers from the neighboring village join them and, with incredible speed and persistence, dig several five-foot deep holes in less than an hour! For the next few hours, everyone has to heave heavy stones, cut meters of wire rope, and prepare the basic structure, ie posts and ropes. The work goes well and quickly and we can end the day with a bit of equator sunburn and a few more calluses on our hands in time for the 6 p.m. sunset.
The next morning, the first basic construction is pulled up. The heavy stones were filled into the 1.50m deep holes to weigh down the posts fixed with a wire rope construction.
Tensioning the wire ropes and tightening all the clamps and screws takes a moment and Kaya and Anna are equipped with ratchets and power pullers to do just that.
The entire team works so fast that by the end of the fifth day both constructions are in place, tensioned and three of the four nets are hanging . There's something celebratory about the net hanging part. Because everyone holds and tightens the net together and children from the school have also mingled with us and lend a hand.
When the mesh is pulled onto the construction it feels like our own little flag is being raised. In any case, we are getting closer to the matter visually and functionally. And if we keep going like this, we'll have our nets up in 2.5 days. We don't know if that's a record, but it still feels good.
The work in Tanzania is finished and in the meantime the team has returned home with mixed feelings. Our film was released and we are always happy to reminisce about the beautiful moments in Tanzania. We are curious to see how productive the water harvest will be at the nets in Endabok in the coming weeks and months - but we will in any case report on an initial interim result soon.
A lot of sunburn, only one injured person and two heavy downpours - there was nothing more to complain about on our whole way.
The travel diary should not come to an abrupt end with the last net hanging and the last rain gutter installed, but rather a few words about the whole trip, with which I will close the travel report for the time being (at least until the next project). would like.
If you travel to Tanzania as a tourist, you usually only get a superficial impression of the country. As a participant and contributor to a project where locals, organizers and sponsors work together, the experience in and with the country is undoubtedly fundamentally different. In order to understand a little more of Tanzania, you have to immerse yourself in everyday life and the tasks of the people - as far as it is possible as an outsider. Working together, acting and creating something conveys more of the way of life that is common there than just watching from the outside. And we believe that we actually got this insight. Including some more vocabulary in Swahili.
But that's not all. Working together brought all of us, who only knew each other briefly or just got to know each other, closer to each other - and made us something like friends.
Describing Tanzania itself in words was one of the biggest challenges while writing these texts. Because you almost can't. This country is so vibrant and energetic, steeped in mystery and adventure, you can't just drive there and drive away. There is a timelessness to Africa that prompts you to change your attitude towards what is important and what is unimportant.
But we know one thing: Tanzania, we'll be back!