An exploration of groundwater resources has identified reserves of water in Turkana County in drought-stricken northern Kenya. Of Kenya’s 41 million people, 17 million lack access to safe water and 28 million do not have adequate sanitation.
An exploration of groundwater resources has identified reserves of water in Turkana County in drought-stricken northern Kenya.
The findings were announced at the opening of an international water security conference in Nairobi on September 9, 2013 and are the result of a groundwater mapping project, GRIDMAP (Groundwater Resources Investigation for Drought Mitigation in Africa Programme), spearheaded by UNESCO in partnership with the government of Kenya and with the financial support of the Government of Japan.
Of Kenya’s 41 million people, 17 million lack access to safe water and 28 million do not have adequate sanitation.
Two aquifers – the Lotikipi Basin Aquifer and the Lodwar Basin Aquifer – were identified using advanced satellite exploration technology.
Their existence was then confirmed by drilling conducted recently by UNESCO, but there is need for further studies to adequately quantify the reserves and to assess the quality of the water.
The technology combines remote sensing, seismic and conventional groundwater information to explore and map groundwater occurrence over large areas in short periods of time.
The Lotikipi Basin Aquifer is located west of Lake Turkana, the world’s largest permanent desert lake. On its own, Lotikipi could potentially increase Kenya’s strategic water reserves.
The smaller Lodwar Basin Aquifer could serve as a strategic reserve for the development of Lodwar, the capital of Turkana County, provided the reserve is confirmed.
Three additional aquifers have also been identified in other parts of Turkana but have not yet been confirmed by drilling and would also need to be assessed using complementary techniques.
More research will need to be done to enable a more accurate assessment of the aquifers and their potential contribution to Kenya’s economic development.
Announcing the findings during the opening session of the UNESCO Strategic and High-Level Meeting on Water Security and Cooperation, Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, said that the results were a critical scientific breakthrough for the country.
“The news about these water reserves comes at a time when reliable water supplies are highly needed. This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole. We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations,” she said.
Stressing Kenya’s vulnerability and water insecurity caused by erratic rainfall patterns and the influence of climate change, Wakhungu said more research and investment were now needed to identify and understand groundwater aquifers and improve capacity for monitoring and assessment of these resources.
“UNESCO is proud to be a part of this important finding, which clearly demonstrates how science and technology can contribute to industrialization and economic growth, and to resolving real societal issues like access to water,” said UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, Gretchen Kalonji.
“It is indeed in line with UNESCO’s vision for science for sustainable development and we will continue to support Africa to unlock the full potential of its invisible water wealth."
The Government of Kenya also announced the launch of a national groundwater mapping program that would be implemented with UNESCO to assist county governments in identifying and assessing their groundwater resources.
Clashes have occurred in Kenya over water and livestock grazing land, according to Drs. Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel in the book Water and Sanitation Related Diseases and the Environment: Challenges, Interventions, and Preventive Measures. The provision of water from these newly found aquifers might not only bring immediate relief to people and their livestock, but also reduce reasons for conflict.
This news is from UNESCO, 9 September 2013.
NOTE: Read About UNESCO’S GRIDMAP Program In This Flyer: www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/.../FIELD/.../GRIDMAP%20Flyer.pdf
Book Cover This article is presented as part of the Supplementary Material that accompanies the book Water and Sanitation Related Diseases and the Environment: Challenges, Interventions, and Preventive Measures, a Wiley-Blackwell publication in collaboration with Horizon International, written by 59 experts. Janine M. H. Selendy, Horizon International Founder, Chairman, President and Publisher, is Editor.
The book’s 4 hours of multimedia DVDs are included with an abundance of multidisciplinary resources, covering diverse topics from anthropology to economics to global health are being distributed free of charge by the Global Development And Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University.
These will be sent to thousands of libraries, organizations, and institutions in 138 less-wealthy countries and will be invaluable additions to library materials for use in classrooms and communities, by researchers and government decision-makers.
Map of countries
As of 17 September 2013, these resources have been made available in over 1,200 entities across 60 countries.
Read more: PDF Version is available at http://solutions-site.org/press/release1july2013.pdf