Catching Clouds

Catching Clouds

Thursday January 28, 2016 Written by Naomi

In arid Peru, it can be difficult – and costly – to get access to water. For decades, local farmers have had to purchase water for their crops from expensive delivery trucks, which bring supplies up to the mountains. Recently, however, a few enterprising farmers have developed an alternative source of hydration: with the help of simple yet ingenious atrapanieblas, or ‘fog catchers’, they’ve begun harvesting water directly from the sky.

Fog catchers are basically vast nets strung between two poles. The fine mesh allows water droplets from the fog to accumulate and eventually run off into a canal. The nets work well in Peru because of the dense and omnipresent fog, known locally as camanchaca, or 'donkey's belly', that rolls in from the coast.

In Cloud Catchers, a short film produced by Makeshift, a farmer from Villa Lourdes shows off the nets and explains the difference they’ve made to local lives. Though the fog catchers may seem modest, the water they catch allows locals to grow food (both for themselves and for sale), whether it rains or not.

In the town of Pena Blanca, a few ingenious folks are even making beer using only the water caught in their fog catchers. The brewery might be boutique, but with 24,000 litres of beer produced on site each year, it’s not exactly a homebrew operation.