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Fog harvesting is real — and it's bringing clean drinking water to communities in need.

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High in the Anti-Atlas mountains of southwestern Morocco, there are several isolated villages where the Berber people have lived for centuries.

The Anti-Atlas mountains of southwestern Morocco. Image via Dar Si Hmad.

The Berber people, also called the Imazighen, have lived in scattered settlements across Morocco and its surrounding countries for thousands of years. As the descendants of the pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa, their history dates back to prehistoric times. They have preserved their own language and culture despite numerous attempts to colonize them throughout history. Today, about 14 million Berber people live in Morocco.


Over the past 30 years, life has become increasingly difficult for the Berbers living in the Anti-Atlas mountains because of desertification andabnormally intense droughts,including one in 1986 that dried out the region so much that it has never fully recovered.

A Berber woman pouring hot water into a tea pot. Image via iStock.

Before, while it had always been warm and dry there, they had sufficient rainwater and well water to survive and raise livestock. But these long dry spells forced women and children to spend an average of four hours a day on round trips to gather drinking water for their families and cattle. And during particularly dry summers, they had to hike even further.

When the water shortages got dire, water had be hauled in by tanker truck, which was time-consuming and expensive. They urgently needed a solution to their water problem, especially since climate change was likely to make the task of finding drinking water even harder.

Luckily, their unique climate offered them a potential solution.

Fog in the Anti-Atlas mountains of Morocco. Image by Ayman Abdelilah/Wikimedia Commons.

There is a lot of fog in this area of southwestern Morocco because of some interesting meteorological phenomena.

There is a large, stationary high-pressure system (called the Azores anticyclone) that circulates air off the coast of Morocco over a cold-water current from the Canary Islands. This causes air to pick up moisture and form clouds — specifically statocumulus clouds, which are low-lying and full of water. Wind then pushes these clouds from the coast toward the Anti-Atlas mountains, but since these mountains are high and colder than the coast, they form a natural barrier — trapping the clouds and forming fog against the mountainsides.

Fog in the Anti-Atlas mountains. Image via Dar Si Hmad.

This means that while there is very little rain on these mountains, there is a lot of thick fog, which, thanks to some new green technology, can be harnessed and turned directly into drinking water.

Dar Si Hmad, a women-led NGO in Morocco, designed and installed a fog-water harvesting system — the largest in the world to date — on the summit of one of these foggy mountains, Mount Boutmezguida.

The fog-harvesting system being installed on Mount Boutmezguida. Image via Dar Si Hmad.

The way fog-harvesting works is actually fairly simple: On the summit of Boutmezguida, high above the villages, finely meshed panels — or nets — were installed.

The mesh in the fog-harvesting system. Image via Dar Si Hmad.

When wind pushes fog through the specialized mesh, water droplets are trapped. They then condense and fall into a container that collects the water below the nets. This water flows downhill in pipes to reservoirs, where it can be stored until it is needed.

The construction team setting up pipes to capture the fog water. Image via Dar Si Hmad.

From those reservoirs, the water is piped directly to the villages and individual households. So far, this project in Morocco has provided running water to 92 households, or nearly 400 people, most of them women and children.

The best part? Fog water is pure, free from any contaminants and pollutants, so it can be used for drinking water without any treatment.

This makes fog-catching an incredibly affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly way to harvest drinking water, and it can be used in other places where there are few or no viable means to access water.

Image via Dar Si Hmad.

Dar Si Hmad’s project was awarded a United Nations Climate Change prize in 2016, and there are already plans to extend the fog-catching system to other villages and parts of Morocco.

“Where there’s fog, we can harness it for the community, store it when it’s needed and use it later, instead of looking for very expensive and fossil-based solutions like desalinizing water, or digging more bore holes looking for even deeper aquifers,” Dr. Jamila Bargach, director of Dar Si Hmad, told CNN.

Aissa Derhem, the president of Dar Si Hamed. Image by Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images.

The technique could be used in other parts of the world, as well. In fact, FogQuest, a Canadian nonprofit, has already set up fog-harvesting systems in South and Central America, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Where there is fog, this technology has the power to not only deliver clean water, but also to change people's lives — especially women and children — all over the world. And the technology will undoubtedly become more important in the future as droughts and climate change affect water supplies globally.

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Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone

Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.

Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga, Nathalie and Gina all have MS, and their experiences show how differently the disease can manifest.

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It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.

Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.

All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.

To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.

woman with horse, woman riding horseGina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi

Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)

When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.

“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”

As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.

“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.

Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.

“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”

To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.

Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.

Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.

Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.

woman in wheelchair holding medal, woman rowingNathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi

Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)

Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.

“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”

However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.

“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.

She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”

By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.

Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.

Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.

“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”

woman exiting water after swimming, woman with great daneHelga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)

When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.

“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”

In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.

“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.

However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.

Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.

Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.

“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”

Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.

MAT-GLB-2301642-v1.0-05/2023

This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.

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The folks at Equator AI are giving people a realistic idea of what people in ancient civilizations sounded like by recreating the languages of 15 languages that haven't been heard in centuries. In the video, the languages are spoken by computer-generated recreations of people who lived in that era.

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Meet the 11 outstanding nonprofits that took home this year’s Classy Awards

Each organization has gone above and beyond to make our world a better place.

All images provided by the Classy Awards, used with permission

Give these organizations all the awards

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Since 2009, the Classy Awards have celebrated nonprofits for their unique approaches to making our world a better place for everyone. Winners are given a platform to amplify their cause and showcase the positive impact of their programs.

This year, we are proud to announce that the Classy Awards have partnered with Upworthy, and we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on the 2023 winners.

From championing gender equality, to massively reducing food waste, to providing trade-based skills training to the neurodivergent community, each organization has made an incredible contribution to the betterment of our world.

Collectively through their efforts, nearly 1.5 million people and animals were served across 34 countries worldwide last year alone. That’s a win in itself.

Check out the 11 winners for 2023 below:


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Food Heroes has redirected 137 million pounds of edible food from landfills to the people who need it most.

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