Strategic Groundwater Reserves Found in Kenya
The aquifers were identified using advanced satellite exploration technology
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, 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.
Two aquifers — the Lotikipi Basin Aquifer and the Lodwar Basin Aquifer — were identified using advanced satellite exploration technology. Their existence then was confirmed by drilling conducted recently by UNESCO, but there is need for further study to adequately quantify the reserves and assess water quality. 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.
Of Kenya’s population or 41 million, 17 million lack access to safe water and 28 million do not have adequate sanitation.
The government of Kenya also announced the launch of a national groundwater-mapping program that will be implemented with UNESCO, which will assist county governments in identifying and assessing their groundwater resources.