From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published April 4, 2013 10:51 AM

'Waterpod' Turns Desert Well-Water Clean

Ever since the construction of a hydro-electric dam in the Draa Valley nearly 40 years ago, Sahara nomads have faced further desertification of the region, taking a heavy toll on water supplies.

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More than 330 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, or around 40 percent of the population, do not have access to clean drinking water, according to a report published by British NGO WaterAid.

While there are wells throughout the region, they often contain undrinkable brackish water that is inundated with salt.

Thankfully, a new portable desalination device that uses the sun’s energy to make fresh drinking water has been developed. As the sun exudes power to the box, evaporation and condensation occur, separating salt particles from the water.

Designed by Alain Thibault and his team, the new 'Waterpod' is a sustainable small scale desalination instrument that uses solar energy as opposed to fossil fuel.

Nourreddine Bourgab, who is President of the Nomad festival, told AFP that the Waterpod is an exemplary solution to the nomad's dilemma of hitting salty wells. "It's a technique that embodies the real meaning of sustainable development and protection of the environment," he said.

If cared for properly, the letterbox Waterpod will convert 12 liters of brackish water into 6 liters of clean drinking water every day for up to 40 years.

While this device is not a new concept, this lightweight, $650 invention is nearly indestructible and fits the lifestyle of the Sahara nomads.

Noureddine Bourgab, the president of the nomad festival at M'Hamid, also praised the environmental value of the new device, which he hoped could "put an end to the problem of salty water for the desert nomads." "It's a technique that embodies the real meaning of sustainable development and protection of the environment," he said. Omar Razzouki, a nomad from the M'Hamid region, stated: "This could resolve many of our water problems," he said, noting that the box was light, and "we won't have the problem of salty water everywhere we go."

The research team has given courses at a college in Tiznit, on Morocco's Atlantic coast, in order to teach students how to produce the Waterpod at a cheaper cost.

Read more at Phys.org.

Desert well image via Shutterstock.

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