Social Issues

Lima’s “Wall of Shame” becomes source of water to the extreme poor

By Carla Samon Ros

Lima’s “Wall of Shame,” that separates the impoverished Pamplona Alta suburb from the opulence of the Las Casuarinas neighborhood, has turned into a source of water for families living in extreme poverty.

The controversial wall, 10 kilometers long and 3 meters tall, was built to prevent the poverty-stricken settlements from advancing into the wealthy neighborhood of Surco, and has become one of the most iconic images to represent inequality in Latin America.

On one side of the wall lie some of Lima’s most luxurious homes while human settlements live in extreme poverty and with no water supply on the other side.

But thanks to an initiative by NGO Movimiento Peruanos Sin Agua that designed an ingenious system of “fog catchers” along the wall, the concrete barrier is turning into something more than just a wall of shame.

“The idea is to take advantage of the wall, which separates the rich from the poor, so that it can be useful (…) We are giving free and drinkable water from the sky,” industrial engineer Abel Cruz, president of the NGO Movimiento Peruanos Sin Agua, told Efe.

The 23 fog catchers along the wall capture the humidity that covers the hills of southern Lima on winter mornings by collecting and condensing the gas, which is liquefied into water and poured through gutters to be stored in large tanks.

Each of the fog catchers use two poles that support a 20-square-meter nylon mesh with small holes.

These nets, which can be purchased at a hardware store, collect between 200 and 400 liters of water per day, according to Cruz.

On days of dense fog, up to 9,000 liters of water can be collected, which supplies some 40 families in the village.

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