International

Discovery Of Massive Aquifers Could Be Game Changer For Kenya

Members of the El Molo tribe are pictured in the village of Komote, on the shores of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya, last year. i i

hide captionMembers of the El Molo tribe are pictured in the village of Komote, on the shores of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya, last year.

Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the El Molo tribe are pictured in the village of Komote, on the shores of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya, last year.

Members of the El Molo tribe are pictured in the village of Komote, on the shores of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya, last year.

Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Satellite imagery and seismic data have identified two huge underground aquifers in Kenya's drought-prone north, a discovery that could be "a game changer" for the country, NPR's Gregory Warner reports.

The aquifers, located hundreds of feet underground in the Turkana region that borders Ethiopia and South Sudan, contain billions of gallons of water, according to UNESCO, which confirmed the existence of the subterranean lakes discovered with the help of a French company using technology originally designed to reveal oil deposits.

The Lotikipi Basin Aquifer is located west of Lake Turkana, the world's largest permanent desert lake, which nonetheless contains alkaline and unpalatable water. The second discovery is the smaller Lodwar Basin Aquifer.

"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, Cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. "We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations," she said.

"If we use the water sustainably, when it comes to water resources we become very secure," Wakhungu said.

UNESCO says 40 percent of Kenya's 41 million people lack access to safe water, and 28 million do not have adequate sanitation.

NPR's Warner says the subterranean lakes, shaped as scientists describe like a short stack of "interconnected pancakes," are naturally replenished by mountain rain.

"But getting the water to the people could be a challenge," he says. "Turkana is the least developed region of Kenya, just south of a disputed border region and scene of frequent deadly tribal clashes."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: