For isolated desert regions where access to fresh water is a constant battle there’s a bamboo tower that is proving to be a lifesaver.

Ethiopia is a country that needs water – badly. Designer Arturo Vittori, along with his team at the non-profit Warka Water, have an award-winning solution available that could help millions of people across countries such as Ethiopia gain the means to collect healthy, drinkable water.

The Warka Water tower (named after the massive fig-bearing warka tree native to Ethiopia) is 30 feet (just over 9 meters) of bamboo bracing that supports water-resistant polyester mesh netting, used to collect not just rain but fog and dew. Any moisture harvested gets funneled into a tank on ground level, and recent upgrades to the original 2012 design allow the structure to harvest upwards of 26 gallons (98 liters) of water daily. A key feature to the overall design of these towers is the use of local materials in its construction and the relative ease of erecting them, all with a price tag that sits around $1,000 (U.S.).

The Warka Water towers are also capable of generating electricity via solar panels. Gardens that provide fresh vegetables for up to three families can be grown at the base of the tower, automatically watered by the collected moisture. All of this is accomplished through the use of biodegradable and recyclable materials.

With the help of crowdfunding campaigns, the U.S.-based company has expanded its efforts into countries like Haiti and Togo as well. The basic scientific principles behind the tower and water collection are not new ones, but the “thinking outside the box” mentality and focus on respecting and utilizing local resources might be the keys to success for helping bring drinking water to the millions that need it.

Story by Jay Moon