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 and abnormally 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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.