Africa ground water initiative launched

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 23, 2012
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The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in collaborations with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somali governments have launched a joint ground water initiative that aims at alleviating the impact of drought in the Horn of Africa.

The initiative, Groundwater Resources Investigation for Drought Mitigation in Africa Program (GRIDMAP) is set to utilize the advanced exploration technologies to finding clean ground water for vulnerable populations and strengthening of the regional scientific capacities.

"The drought and consequent lack of food and drinking water that has led to the worst famine in 60 years in the region calls for the development of groundwater resources," UNESCO Director Professor Joseph Massaquoi told journalists in Nairobi.

He noted that the development of groundwater is a viable option in drought circumstances in improving sustainable water management approach.

Massaquoi added that it is important African governments work towards the development of the people's capacity on the availability and use of water resources in terms of quality and quantity.

He announced that the Japan government funded 1.55 million U.S. dollar project will start with surveying ground water in the drought stricken Turkana region of northern Kenya and is expected to benefit thousands of vulnerable communities who currently live without steady source of clean water.

"Based on the groundwater flow and recharge rate in Kenya, the renewal ground water resources are more than surface water resources," Kenya's Director of Water Resources Engineer John Nyaoro noted.

He said that the project will boost an ongoing study of developing a national water master plan 2030 in the times of population increase and the challenge posed by climate change challenges.

Nyaoro observed that with the recurrent floods and drought, surface water is no longer enough for both domestic and commercial use in northern Kenya.

"Flood runoff and the rate of evaporation is calling for serious water storage for use during the hard times," he added. He noted that even though Kenya's water is scarce, the ground has over 60 billion metric litres of water.

According to the project's Vice Chairman Engineer Chrispine Juma ground water is a strategic reserve in northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somali since surface water resources have been diminishing in quality and quantity due to the adverse climate change.

"We are now moving away from the traditional way of doing things by reducing the overreliance on surface water only," he added.

Juma revealed that in Kenya the project will be extended to other regions after the Turkana and Kakuma pilot projects.

Under the initiative, a rapid assessment of existing knowledge and capacities in the region will be identified; advanced survey of groundwater using remote sensing technologies and training local national expert's on managing groundwater for drought mitigation will be carried out.

It is expected that the initiative will help develop high resolution groundwater potential maps and improved access to drinking water by the end of this year. It will further build resilient capacities needed to mitigate future drought.

The initiative is a response to the water shortage crisis that continues to afflict millions of people in Kenya, Somali and Ethiopia some nine months after the onset of drought and famine in 2011.

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