With the aim of serving 100 million people by 2030, Majik Water has developed a clever method to extract water from the atmosphere, even in desert areas. By utilising this inexhaustible resource, they are able to provide a sustainable solution for thousands of Kenyans.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, global water use has increased more than twice as quickly as population growth over the past century. As a result of population growth and economic development, more and more regions are running out of room to provide water services sustainably, particularly in arid areas. According to UNICEF, 1.42 billion people, including 450 million children, now reside in places that are very or extremely vulnerable to water scarcity. By 2025, that figure is expected to rise to 1.8 billion.
Kenya is transforming. According to Beth Koigi, CEO and founder of Majik Water, “We are suffering severe droughts and flooding in many sections of the country, and subsurface water supplies are becoming more and more inaccessible.” “We need breakthroughs that can make a difference now and in the future,”
Koigi grew raised in Kenya, where he endured prolonged droughts and water shortages. She frequently became sick while she was a student because the water in her dorms was contaminated. She started constructing her own water filters using activated carbon because buying them for $50 was out of the question. This immediately gained traction, and she started making inexpensive water filters for low-income homes that cost $1.
However, even the best water filters require water to filter; and when Kenya experienced a national drought emergency in 2016-2017, Koigi sought a creative solution to continue providing water to at-risk communities. She collaborated with Anastasia Kaschenko, a Canadian environmental scientist, and Clare Sewell, an Oxford economist, on Majik Water, a device that harvests affordable and clean drinking water directly from the air, owing to the fact that there is an estimated six times more water in the atmosphere than groundwater worldwide.
“Where there is air, there is water,” Koigi says. “Majik Water provides clean drinking water to people living in the harshest conditions on the planet.” Because of the inherent need and urgency for water all over the world, innovations like this are critical — we can no longer rely on past solutions.”
The name of the company is derived from the Swahili words maji (water) and kuvuna (harvest), which is exactly what the device does. Industrial fans extract humidity from the air. It is then captured in silica gel and condensed with refrigerating gas to produce liquid water. The water is then mineralized so that it contains the nutrients that humans require. If the air contains contaminants, the water can be passed through another RO (reverse osmosis) filter to prevent bacteria growth.
Majik Water’s machines require a lot of energy to run; as a result, they were designed to be powered by solar panels or a generator. They can also be configured to run on solar energy during the day and on the grid at night if necessary.
“Right now, we have a wide range of devices ranging from small, household units that produce 25 litres per day to large, industrial units that produce 500 litres per day,” Koigi explains. “These devices can also be stacked to produce even more if necessary.”
Majik Water currently produces 200,000 litres of water per day for over 1,900 people in Kenya; in addition to providing much-needed hydration, Majik Water also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the need to burn firewood or charcoal to boil water for safe use. It takes pride in being led by women and run by Africans for Africans; 30% of all materials used to make the units are sourced from Kenya, and the devices themselves are assembled almost entirely by Kenyans.
Majik’s business model is tailored to its clientele, which includes corporations, non-governmental organisations, and individual households. Each pricing model considers the demand, location, and budget of each client. The pay-as-you-go model allows people in rural areas to purchase a litre of water for as little as $0.01, whereas the monthly subscription model is better suited to clients in semi-urban areas, such as corporations and non-governmental organisations.
“We hope to have instalments bringing water to 100 million people by 2030,” Koigi says. “Partnering with non-governmental organisations is critical because it provides us with local links to services already present in the community, in-kind support, and knowledge sharing.”
Majik Water’s on-the-ground, customizable solution could not have arrived at a better time, as the number of vulnerable communities worldwide in need of an affordable, sustainable way to access clean drinking water will only increase in the coming years.