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In the mountainous regions of Ethiopia, finding drinkable water is a time-consuming and sometimes dangerous task. Women and children often walk for hours each day just to bring potable water home for their families. Even after the dangerous journey, the water they bring back is often contaminated and unsafe to drink. Vittori Lab has devised an ingenious way to make safe, potable water available without the long treks.

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The Warka Water Towers were inspired by Ethiopia’s indigenous Warka tree, a type of fig tree that symbolizes fertility and generosity. Warka trees are disappearing from Ethiopia, but Warka Water Towers seek to honor those traditional gathering places by becoming the next generation of Ethiopian gathering spots.

Women fetching water and children playing, Warka Water, Ethiopia.

Standing almost 30 feet tall, the Warka Water Towers collect water from thin air using condensation-collecting cloth. Each tower can be assembled in just a few days by villagers using local materials, with no special skills needed. The lightweight structure can collect up to 100 liters – or just over 26 gallons – of safe drinking water each and every day. Making drinking water readily available can keep villagers safe and could make it possible for girls to attend school rather than spending full days gathering water.

warka water towers detail

“Visiting small isolated communities up on the high plateau in the North East region of Ethiopia, in 2012, I witnessed this dramatic reality: the lack of potable water. The villagers live in a beautiful natural environment but often without running water, electricity, toilets. Ever since to bring safe water has become our mission and the project from the first concept has been developed and tested with several full-scale prototypes”, said Arturo Vittori.

“In 2015 the first pilot has been constructed in Dorze, a rural community in south Ethiopia. After this successful initiative, we have founded the ‘Warka Water Inc.’ non-profit, based in the USA, as a platform for our social actions.”