Some nights I have trouble sleeping because I start "day" dreaming while trying to go to sleep. Last night it was about developing a solution to deliver clean water to the ultra-poor who live near salty or brackish water. We usually write about water conservation for rich Americans. You know, how to get free rain barrels to save a few dollars irrigating your lawn.
I think I was stuck on this topic after reading a Time Magazine article about the thousands of people dying in Somalia because of the drought and resulting famine.
A few years ago while thinking on this same topic I was researching ways to evaporate sea water so you are left with clean H2O. I had read about the deserted island survival tip about digging a whole, putting a cup of salt water in it, placing a plastic sheet over the hole and a rock on top of and in the middle of the sheet, and a clean cup under the now sagging plastic sheet. This way the salt water evaporates and then clean water collects in the clean cup.
After doing some research I found the Watercone, which uses the same idea but is way simpler. While I had trouble sleeping last night I was thinking about using solar thermal system to heat up salt water so a lot more of it could be evaporated. Well it looks like the same company behind the Watercone, MAGE water management, has also thought of this same idea and calls it SAL-MEH water generation modules.
So how do we get East African entrepreneurs to start building these facilities like crazy, then hiring the millions of unemployed to bring the clean water farther inland? What are some other ways to cheaply deliver clean water to those who really need it?