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Girls In Kenya Use Vapor Technology To Quench Their Thirsts

Community members, having seen the devices in use at the school, hope to acquire some of their own if they can find the funding.

In this arid part of northern Kenya, water can be hard to find, particularly in the dry season.

But a center run by the Samburu Girls Foundation – which rescues girls facing early marriage and female genital mutilation – has a new high-tech source of it.

Since June, the center, which has rescued more than 1,200 girls, has used panels that catch water vapor in the air and condense it to supply their drinking water.

“We used to have difficulties in accessing water and during a drought we could either go to the river to fetch water or ask our neighbors to give us water,” said Jecinta Lerle, a pupil and vice president of students at the center’s school.

water, girls
The Skysource/Skywater Alliance co-founders David Hertz, right, and his wife Laura Doss-Hertz demonstrate how the Skywater 300 turns air into water, in Los Angeles. VOA

But now, officials at the school say, the girls no longer have to travel for water – including into communities they have left, which could put them at risk.

“The girls can now have more time to study since there is enough fresh water to go round and there is no need to walk long distances to search for water,” said Lotan Salapei, the foundation’s head of partnerships.

Girls formerly trekked up to five kilometers a day in search of clean water during particularly dry periods, sometimes bringing them into contact with members of their former community, Salapei said.

The center, given 40 of the water vapor-condensing panels by the company that builds them, now creates about 400 liters of clean water each day, enough to provide all the drinking water the center needs.

Girls in Kenya
A girl at the Samburu Girls Foundation center in Loosuk, Kenya, drinks from a fountain that draws its water from solar-powered panels that condense water vapor from the air. VOA

The “hydropanels,” produced by U.S.-based technology company Zero Mass Water, pull water vapor from the air and condense it into a reservoir.

Cody Friesen, Zero Mass Water’s founder and chief executive officer, said the company’s project with the Samburu Girls Foundation was an example of its efforts to make sure the technology “is accessible to people across the socioeconomic spectrum.”

The panels provided to the Samburu Girls Foundation cost about $1,500 each, foundation officials said.

Zero Mass Water has so far sold or donated the panels in 16 countries, including South Africa.

Hydropanels, girls
The “hydropanels,” produced by U.S.-based technology company Zero Mass Water.

Saving trees

George Sirro, a solar engineer with Solatrend Ltd., a Nairobi-based solar equipment company, said such devices can be a huge help not only to people but in slowing deforestation that is driving climate change and worsening drought in Kenya.

Often people with inadequate water cut trees to boil the water they do find to make it safe, he said, driving deforestation.

Also Read: California Couple Develops Way That Allows To Make Water From Air

Philip Lerno a senior chief in Loosuk, where the girls’ foundation is located, said he hopes to see the panels more widely used in the surrounding community, which usually experiences long dry periods each year.

He said community members, having seen the devices in use at the school, hope to acquire some of their own if they can find the funding. (VOA)

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