Aquifers discovered in Kenya

Satellite technology has discovered a huge water source underground in the drought-stricken Turkana region of northern Kenya which could supply the country for 70 years.

In total, two aquifers were found - one in the Turkana Basin and another in the Lotikipi Basin - and they are said to hold some 250 billion cubic metres of water.

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.

Another aquifer was found in Namibia.

According to UNESCO, out of a population of roughly 41 million people, 17 million Kenyans lack sufficient access to safe drinking water and 28 million are without adequate sanitation.

"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," said Judi Wakhungu, Kenya's secretary for the environment, water and natural resources, in a UNESCO statement. "We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations."

Ms Wakhungu said Kenya currently uses about three billion cubic metres a year.

"We're hoping with the two test boreholes, the water should be available within a month. The first priority is to supply water to the people of the area, who have always been water insecure."

The finds were a result of cooperation between the Kenyan government and UNESCO, with financial support from Japan.

According to UNESCO, further study is needed to determine exactly how much water there is and its quality.

It also remains to be seen how easy and expensive tapping the new supply will be.

Separately, the Government of Kenya announced the launch of a national groundwater mapping programme that would be implemented with UNESCO, which would assist county governments in identifying and assessing their groundwater resources.

Image: © Getty

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