I was fascinated when I read about the poor people of Lima, Peru. They are the bus drivers, street vendors and construction workers … those who can’t afford to live in the city.
They live high up in the hills. Sure it’s cheap, only they have to worry about landslides—not to mention there’s no water. Rain hardly ever falls here, and the city people get water from the Andean lakes.
Still, the hill people got lucky when Kai Tiedemann and Anne Lummerich came along. They’re German conservationists who run a small development called Alimon. In 2006 they began helping the people of Bellavista to set up special nets that soak up water directly from the air.
When they began to search for the right place to carry out their project, Kai and Anne got help from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration and the Bayer AG Company.
The village people of Bellavista worked hard building plywood shacks, staying long enough on the land to get a title from the government. Planting trees is a requirement, only there’s not enough water for irrigation. On top of that, they had to buy water from the trucks that came weekly.
The villagers weren’t so sure this fog-catching idea would work. Still, they did the heavy lifting and digging; had to haul 94 pound bags of sand uphill for 800 feet to stabilize the net; had to do the backbreaking job of digging the pools to gather water collected by the fog catchers.
I thought this process worked by condensation, when vapor touches a cold surface and turns to liquid. What I learned: fog is liquid, only it’s teeny, tiny drops. The collectors look like volleyball nets. They are 13 feet high and 26 feet wide. The nets are perpendicular to the wind, stretch between wooden polls. The top of each net is 18 feet above the ground.
When the wind blows the fog through the coarse woven mesh, the droplets stick. As more and more droplets hit the net they clump together and form drops. Next, they fall into a gutter and flow through tubes into the gathering pools. The pools can hold up to 25,000 gallons of water. One net can hold as much as 150 gallons.
The villagers now grow a tree with fruit that is used for treating furniture leather. The money they make from selling the fruit helps to pay for maintaining the nets.
Things are looking up on the hills of Lima.
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full
Over the Edge
Sooner or later things will explode
between Lance and André.