An ambitious pilot project launched eight months ago in Nairobi to map groundwater water which would establish quantity and quality with the aim of exploiting the water in case of emergency like drought has indicated that Kenya and Ethiopia has vast water resources and only need adequate machinery to exploit it.
The project which used remote sensing technology to explore underground water was coordinated by UNESCO but implemented jointly with water ministries from Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia having received US$1.55 million from Japan's government for surveying Turkana, an arid area in northern Kenya. The survey used a satellite system called WATEX, which was used to locate water for Sudanese refugees in Chad in 2005.
This as part of the first phase of the regional Ground Water Resources Investigation for Drought Mitigation in Africa Programme (GRIDMAP), also a UNESCO initiative.
According to Saud Amer, a water rsource and remote sensing specialist with the US Geological Survey, a GRIDMAP partner, the data will be used by governments and other agencies to address the water crisis that affect the region and look at factors such as rainfall, geology and geomorphology".
The Head of Water resources at the Ministry of Water in Kenya, Mr. John Rao Nyaoro, while addressing journalists during the launch of 'Strengthening capacity to combat drought and famine in the horn of Africa,' project said that past satellite surveys indicated that Kenya has 60 billion cubic metres of renewable underground water compared to 20 billion cubic metres of surface water. His Ethiopian counterpart, the Director of groundwater in Ethiopia Tadesse Tesfaye, alo said the country has at least 40 billion cubic meters of underground water or more.
Assessing knowledge and capacity in groundwater resources management will enable the drilling of emergency wells and help development planning.
The initial project's full title is 'Strengthening capacity to combat drought and famine in the Horn of Africa: tapping groundwater resources for emergency water supply'.
Written by Sasha Watwiri for African Laughter
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