Warka Water, the non-profit organization led by Italian architect Arturo Vittori, is building an integrated village in Cameroon. They already have around 30 people, including both workers and pygmy peoples — hunter-gatherers of the tropical rain forest — living on site.

This ‘Warka Village’ is being constructed with local and natural materials and ancient local construction techniques. Arturo Vittori says, “We are using earth, water, stone, wood and natural fibers. The ‘Warka Village’ aspires to transform the landscape of comprehensive human development, utilizing low-cost, sustainable, community-driven, high-impact multi-sector development interventions that are tailored to the village’s specific needs.”

The project has been under construction in the Congo basin for 18 months and will eventually form a community for local artisans, serving as an example of how to live with nature. The village comprises seven ‘Warka houses’ inspired by the region’s vernacular dwellings; two ‘Warka towers’ designed to collect and harvest potable water from the air; ‘Warka santiation’ composting toilets that operate without flushing water; a ‘Warka pavilion’; and a modular edible ‘Warka garden’ that provides food for residents.

The seven ‘Warka houses’ reference ancient local traditions and the two ‘Warka towers’ will provide the community with an alternative water source. The towers’ water-harvesting capacity depends on the meteorological conditions and aims to distribute between 40 to 80 liters (10 to 20 gallons) of drinking water every day.

The warka tower demonstrates that we can harvest water from the sky, so water doesn’t only come from the ground. This is not a new invention but an ancient technique.

‘Warka sanitation’ provides composting toilets, which operate without flushing water and energy with  the resultant composting materials being used as fertilizer for the ‘Warka garden’.

The term ‘warka’ is derived from the warka tree, a giant, wild fig tree native to Ethiopia.

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