Harvesting the mist

Maria stands beside her water harvesting screen high in the Ecuadorian Andes

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High in the Ecuadorian mountain ranges, people are often surrounded by fog and mist – but have no water for drinking and washing. Women like Maria Zimbana and her daughter used to walk down to the river and back up the mountain carrying heavy buckets of water for the family’s cooking, drinking and washing.

So CARE found an ingenious solution for harvesting water from the mist. The system – made of a large stainless steel mesh screen, PVC piping, a water collection bucket and sensors – can collect up to 200 litres of water, which is then filtered for use in the home.

Maria now dedicates the hours and energy she once spent hauling water to making her small farm thrive. The same CARE programme that showed Maria how to harvest water from the mist also showed her how to protect her crops from unpredictable frosts, and to manufacture her own safe, organic fertiliser.

Before she started working with CARE, Maria’s farm didn’t even produce enough food to feed her family of 11 people. Now there’s enough food for everyone to eat, and enough left over to sell at local markets. Today Maria earns enough from her farm to set aside money for savings and her children’s education.

“I feel like I’m flying,” Maria says. “I no longer depend on others.”

Maria in her food garden

Maria in the food garden where she grows potatoes, lettuce, carrots, celery, parsley, radish and onion