It all sounds so simple: build the fog nets, install them and enjoy the water supply they provide. But in reality, of course, it is a lot more complex and time-consuming than that. First of all, the issue of land-use rights in the area has to be resolved, which is especially important if the nets are to be installed in a nature reserve such as the 1,225-metre-high Boutmezguida region. Then all the materials that cannot be supplied from Morocco have to be imported, which can involve lengthy negotiations with the customs authorities.
In addition to these bureaucratic hurdles, there are also logistical challenges to master, as the Boutmezguida region is very remote and not easily accessible. Our project partner Dar Si-Hmad told us that many of the roads in the region can only be negotiated with four-wheel drive vehicles – and even that is a dangerous undertaking given the steep slopes and crumbling roads. However, anything is possible with a bit of flexibility and improvisation: larger loads are carried by donkeys and mules, which are able to manage even the most hazardous terrain.
Learning from experience
The first of the Munich Re Foundation's fog net projects in the Eritrean highlands was hampered by strong mountain winds which frequently caused damage to the nets. In a series of tests in autumn 2011, Dar Si-Hmad ascertained that the original 40 m² fog nets for Morocco would not be able to withstand the strong winds in the region. The aid organisation therefore decided to install smaller dual collectors. There are now 19 units covering 15 m2, equivalent to a total area of 285m².
Dar Si-Hmad has begun to build the first pipelines and water tanks. The local community is delighted with the project and local workers and community leaders have been helping to connect the pipelines and link them up to existing rudimentary water tanks. The water supply for the first community, Tamerout, is expected to be in place by late February 2012.
A further 7 km of pipelines will be built in the next few months. And more water tanks are to be built to help ensure the supply of water during the dry season when there is no fog. The quality of the drinking water in all tanks also has to be ensured. There are plans to double the existing net surface in the medium term.
So, the initial hurdles have been overcome. Every challenge faced has been met with a suitable solution from our partners and the local communities. We eagerly await the further expansion of the fog net system, which will benefit a number of villages in the Moroccan highlands.