UNESCO to explore groundwater resources in Horn of Africa

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is helping drought-prone Horn of Africa states map and exploit roundwater resources. Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia will benefit from the initiative, «Strengthening Capacity to Combat Drought and Famine in The Horn of Africa: Tapping Ground Water Resources for Emergency Water Supply», presented in Nairobi on 22 May 2012.

2012.05_Horn_of_Africa_1992Groundwater is a strategic resource in the region, where surface water resources already diminishing in quality and quantity face serious threats from climate change. Mr Chrispine Juma, vice chair for Africa at UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), said the international community is looking to groundwater reserves as the solution to food and water scarcity in the Horn of Africa. “The new project will build the capacity of engineers, hydrologists and geologists to adopt modern groundwater exploration technologies”, he said.

The Japanese government is providing $1.55 million USD to implement the project. In the pilot phase, it will assess existing knowledge and capacity to manage groundwater resources in the region as a whole. It will also carry out a comprehensive survey of groundwater resources in the Turkana region in Northern Kenya, to support emergency well-drilling during drought.

The survey will use the WATEX System developed by Radar Technologies International, which can assess groundwater over large areas. At the same time, water experts in the Horn of Africa will be trained to operat the new Drought Monitoring System for East Africa, developed by UNESCO and Princeton University.