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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.

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Kenya, girls
Turkana people carry water near Lodwar, in Turkana County, Kenya. VOA
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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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Apple Expands Its Campus to Austin, East and West U.S.

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.

The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales, and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.

The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.

Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.

Apple, Campus, Tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products, Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. VOA 

Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.

That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.

While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.

Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.

Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.

Apple, Tim Cook, Campus
A guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, California. VOA

Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.

“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.

Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.

Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.

Apple, Tim Cook, Campus
iPhone 8 was also launched with a special edition red colour, Pixabay

Amazon, too, expands

Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.

Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.

Also Read: China Bans iPhone Sales Due to Patent Dispute

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy, with those employees filling restaurants, theaters, buying property and paying taxes.

Annual pay will vary at the new locations, but Apple workers in Cupertino have an average annual salary of about $125,000, according to a report the company submitted to the city. (VOA)