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article imageVideo: 'Cloud catchers' give water to Peruvians

By Anne Sewell     Aug 28, 2012 in Environment
Lima - According to a 4,000 year old legend, an ancient God called Kon punished Peruvians by withholding rain. They had apparently not been paying thanks for the food and water they had.
Now four thousand years after the legend, Peru is still short on water, with the coastal areas resembling a desert.
In some areas, people have to rely on water trucks to bring them water, but in Cerro Nueva Esperanza, just outside Lima, the people are dancing to thank Mother Earth for giving them water - not from the ground, but from the sky.
The villagers have set up twenty nets on the hills to trap fog. Made of tightly woven fabrics, the nets collect and condense the water from the fog and drop by drop, a plastic tube is used as a canal to carry the water to 20 tanks.
These nets are known as "cloud catchers". And for many in Cerro Nueva Esperanza, like 69-year-old Rosa Luna, they are miraculous.
Like many Peruvians, Luna used to carry home buckets of water. “We used to travel two or three kilometers from my daughter's home bringing the water and then walk up the hill with the buckets. At the time, we couldn't even get a motorcycle up here.”
Two years ago, when the first 12 nets were installed, she became one of the first beneficiaries. A tube system was built so she could get the water straight into her home.
When this happened Luna started watering a garden. Soon after, she was growing an aloe field, and making money from it. “Frankly, it is a dream. I don't know if I am watching reality, or is this fake? When we were told two years ago what these nets were going to do we thought, 'what is this?' But now we are so thankful,” she says.
The cloud catchers at Cerro Nueva Esperanza are six-by-four metres and have the capacity to condense around 90 litres per day. “Altogether, we are talking about 3,000 litres at its best”, says Abel Cruz, of Peruvians Without Water.
The nets were apparently designed by German Students and USAID, the U.S. government's development agency, helped to set them up.
Cruz says, “We think that with this system and many more, this could become the pilot programme to secure water for thousands of people who don't have water and sewage systems in Lima.”
More about Peru, peruvians, Water, cloud catchers, Cerro Nueva Esperanza
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