Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Majik Water donated one of its devices to the Ark Children's Home outside of Thika, Kenya | Kenya Climate Innovation Center
Majik Water has found an ingenious way to capture the water from the atmosphere, even in arid regions — harnessing a limitless resource and providing a sustainable solution for thousands of Kenyans, with a goal of reaching 100M people by 2030.
According to the Food and Agriculture
water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of the population
increase in the last century; thanks to demographic growth and economic
development, an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which
water services can be sustainably delivered — especially in arid regions.
UNICEF estimates that 1.42 billion people — including 450 million children —
live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability; and that number is
projected to reach 1.8
billion by 2025.
In Kenya, 41 percent of
the population of 53 million lacks access to basic sanitation solutions; and 15
percent rely on unimproved water sources such as ponds, wells and rivers. With
climate change exacerbating the frequency and severity of droughts (the Horn
of Africa is experiencing its worst drought since
water sources for people and livestock are becoming more scarce — food and water
prices are soaring to unaffordable levels, resulting in rising rates of
“Kenya is changing. We are experiencing extreme droughts and flooding in
different parts of the country, with underground water sources becoming more and
more inaccessible,” Beth Koigi, CEO
and founder of Majik Water, told Sustainable
Brands™. “We need innovations that have an immediate impact and can
make a difference.”
Growing up in Kenya, Koigi experienced extended periods of water rationing and
droughts. While at university, she frequently fell sick due to the contamination
of water in her dormitories. Water filters cost an unaffordable $50; so, she
started making her own — using activated carbon. This quickly gained traction
and she began producing affordable water filters, costing $1, for low-income
But even the best water filters need water to filter; and when the 2016-2017
national drought emergency hit Kenya, Koigi sought a creative solution to
continue to provide water to at-risk communities. She teamed up with
Canadian environmental scientist Anastasia
Kaschenko and Oxford
economist Clare Sewell; and
together, they began working on Majik Water — a device that harvests affordable
and clean drinking water directly from the air, thanks to the fact that there’s
an estimated six times more
water in the atmosphere than
“Where you have air, you have water,” Koigi says. “Majik Water is providing
people who are living in the harshest conditions on the planet with clean
drinking water. Innovations like this are essential due to the inherent need and
urgency for water all over the world — we can no longer rely on the solutions we
have had in the past.”
The startup took its name from the Swahili words maji (water) and kuvuna
(harvest), which is precisely what the device does. Humidity is pulled from the
air using industrial fans. It is then trapped in silica gel and condensed using
refrigerating gas to create liquid water. The water is then mineralized, so that
it contains the essential nutrients needed for human consumption. If the air
contains contaminants, the water can go through a further RO (reverse osmosis)
filter to avoid the proliferation of bacteria.
Powering Majik Water’s machines requires a lot of energy; anticipating this,
they were designed to be powered through solar panels or a generator. If needed,
they can also be customized to operate on solar energy during the day and on the
grid at night.
“We currently have a variety of devices —
ranging from small, household units that produce 25 liters a day to large,
industrial units that produce 500 liters a day,” Koigi explains. “Additionally,
if needed, these devices can be stacked to produce even more.”
The company currently produces 200,000 liters a day for over 1,900 people in
Kenya — in addition to providing much-needed hydration, Majik Water also enables
a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by
eliminating the need for burning firewood or charcoal to boil water for safe
usage. It prides itself on being women-led and run by Africans for Africans; 30
percent of all material used to create the units is sourced from Kenya and the
devices themselves are assembled by an almost entirely Kenyan workforce.
Majik’s business model is tailored to its clientele — consisting of
corporations, NGOs and individual households. Pricing models for each take into
account the demand, location and budget of each client. The pay-as-you-go model
allows people living in rural areas to buy a liter of water for as little as
$0.01, whilst the monthly subscription is more suited to clients in semi-urban
areas, such as corporations and NGOs.
“By 2030, we are hoping to have installments bringing water to 100 million
people,” Koigi says. “Partnering with NGOs is essential; because it provides us
local links to services already present in the community, in-kind support &
Majik Water’s on-the-ground, customizable solution could not have come at a
better time — as the number of vulnerable communities around the world that need
an affordable, sustainable way to access clean drinking water will only continue
to grow in the coming years.
Published Aug 18, 2022 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Scarlett Buckley is a London-based freelance sustainability writer with an MSc in Creative Arts & Mental Health.