Almost one billion people on Earth have no access to clean drinking water, and dirty water and a lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all disease and kill more people than all forms of violence. Jane Harrison and David Turnbull of Atopia Research have come up with a way to raise awareness around this dire situation by marrying it with one of the world’s most popular sports. Their creation, PITCHAfrica, is a soccer field (or pitch) that collects and filters water. The ingenious invention is both a fun place for communities to gather and a way for them to access clean water.
The very first PITCH:AFRICA prototype was unveiled in 2010 at the Port of Los Angeles. The field and accompanying stands (which can seat up to 1,000) are water-permeable. So when it rains, water is collected into cisterns under the structure and can later either be purified and turned into drinking water or used as is to water crops. We’re assuming that the cisterns will work just as well at collecting sweaty players’ and spectators’ perspiration, but perhaps that is best left out of their marketing pitch.
So how much water can PITCHAfrica actually provide? Well, the rainy season in many parts of Africa can result in up to five feet of rain, or 1.8 million liters of water that could potentially be captured in the structure, which is, according to the designers, enough to provide clean drinking water for 1,000 people every day for a full year. And the field doesn’t necessarily have to be used as for soccer. It can be transformed into an event space, a bazaar, a meeting hall or just about anything else the community can think of.