The World Cup may be over, but the people in various communities in Africa won’t stop playing soccer. This sport is an integral part of the daily lives of people in African villages. Atopia Research, a charitable design company, has taken this fact and created a concept that is very much needed in that part of the world: a soccer field that doubles as a rainwater catchment system.
How does it work? It’s simple. The idea is based on the fact that Africa gets plenty of rainfall but only during certain times of the year. The rain falls and the field acts as a catchment surface where the water collects and is drained through a semi-permeable membrane. Some of this water flows through an irrigation system and is used to water plants and eventually harvest crops, while the rest flows into a storage tank and is then filtered for drinking, cooking and bathing. The system can provide 1,000 people with water for a year and is built, using local, sustainable resources and materials to minimize cost and maximize impact.
This project, known as “PITCH: AFRICA” (which means “soccer field” outside of the U.S.), resembles the group of projects implemented by WASH United, a coalition of organizations, agencies, governments and football players from around the world whose mission is to promote clean water, sanitation and hygiene for people in the developing world (especially Africa). Both charities work by using something that is already integrated in African communities – a passion for soccer – to introduce a not-so-available, yet much needed resource – clean water – thereby naturally integrating this resource into their daily lives… a strategy that, in my opinion, has the potential to be highly effective.