Visit to the fog-net project in Eritrea: A net success
Since the first ten fog nets have now been set up in Nefasit, 25 kilometres from the capital city of Asmara, the initial phase of the “Fog nets in Eritrea” project will come to a close at the end of April. The second phase will focus on improving the water supply in Arberobue. Kerstin Anker of the Water Foundation in Ebenhausen, the initiator of the project, Brigitte Saar from ZDF and Dirk Reinhard of the Munich Re Foundation travelled to Eritrea from 5 to 10 March 2007 to see how the project was progressing.
Visit to the local partner organisation
Vision Eritrea, the project partner on site, conducts health, nutrition and water projects throughout the country. The organisation’s membership includes highly trained experts who know how to utilise its reliable infrastructure. Yet Vision Eritrea, too, has to contend with the prevailing adverse circumstances, for instance the rationing of diesel fuel and bureaucratic obstacles. These posed problems for us as well, as we had to wait for travel permits, without which we were not permitted to leave the capital city. There was also a problem with the fog nets, which the Customs Department had received six weeks earlier, but still not released.
Eritrea’s Water Department, which supports the project, knows of the problems, but is also aware of the significance of the fog nets: Ghebremedhin Mehreteab, a member of the authority’s staff, put it this way: “A region with 800,000 inhabitants could benefit from them”. Ultimately, it was thanks to his intervention that the travel permits were issued and the Customs Department released the nets.
The situation in Nefasit
Nefasit, a village of 3,000 inhabitants, lies at an elevation of about 1,700 metres on the main road to the coastal town of Massawa. The cistern is located about 1 kilometre outside the village, and as is customary everywhere there, children and adolescents are usually given the job of fetching water. The water collected by the fog nets will benefit the local “Debre-Bizen Elementary, Junior & Senior Secondary School”, which is not connected to the water supply system. “We are keen to finally see the initial results of the fog project” declared Tesfamariam Asfaha, director of the school with its approx. 1,100 pupils. Many of the classes helped to prepare the site, dug holes for the brace anchors and dragged the materials up the hill.
Handwork in demand
About 15 people, including workers from the village, are helping to set up the masts, and the women have cut and sewn the nets. Tseggai Teklemariam, an engineer from Vision Eritrea, and Virginia Carter from the Canadian organisation Fogquest, which developed the nets, are monitoring the set-up work. The heavy, six-meter-long masts to which the nets will later be attached are carried up the mountain with muscle power alone. Strong wind makes mounting the 40-square-metre nets a dangerous undertaking. Despite that, the first two fog nets were completed on the last day of our visit. “We have already constructed a lot of collectors. Eritrea is very promising, despite the difficulties” commented Virginia Carter. A week later, there were already seven collectors standing, and engineer Tseggai was confident: “By the end of March, we will also have the pipe system finished and the tanks connected.”
Second phase of the project
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