The scientists have developed a computer program to identify risks in Kenya’s shrinking groundwater levels
Scientists from the University of Nairobi, the University of Barcelona, Oxford University and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have been studying the groundwater system in Kwale County, Kenya, focusing on the Msambweni aquifer that provides water for Ukunda. In an area with a relative lack of knowledge regarding depleting groundwater reserves, the scientists have sought to determine the impact of climate change and over extraction on groundwater reserves.
After determining the aquifer’s size and depth, the scientists were able to develop a computer program which pinpoints potential risks to water quality, quantity and demand, according to Reuters. Additionally, the program is able to model projects for scenarios such as climate change or extraction.
“Lack of adequate information is a common problem throughout the country,” said Daniel Olago, a lead researcher on the study. “We need to know how much of the rainwater is being recharged through rainfall and infiltrations, how much of it is stored, and so how much of it can be sustainable used.”
Olago and his team hope that the new tool could help determine when aquifer levels are depleting and inform borehole licensing. The study has found that the groundwater level is depleting across the country, particularly in the Msambweni aquifer. If too much water is extracted, saltwater may leak into the aquifer and destroy it.