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UNESCO launches USD2m groundwater project for Horn of Africa
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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US government supported project aimed at assuring water in emergency situations in the horn of Africa was launched Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya.
The USD1.5 million project ( a donation from the Government of Japan), tapping groundwater resources for emergency water supply is to build into the horn of African’s Groundwater Resources Investigation for Drought mitigation in Africa Programme and aims to map out groundwater resources in drought-prone areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, study hydrological make up of the areas and build capacity of local expertise.
According to Prod Joseph Massaqquoi, Director of UNESCO’s science and technology for Africa, Nairobi office, the project is a collaboration of among others ministries of Water in each of the countries, Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, USG among others.
Massaquoi said owing to the scarcity of rivers and lakes in the region, groundwater can be a source of hope and resilience. However, little is known about the precise location of clean groundwater and reaching it is often difficult and costly. Many of the region’s maps and information regarding groundwater are outdated and incomplete.
Often, aid missions searching for water to increase supplies in emergencies have often cited lack of tools to utilise groundwater in the areas effectively.
Dr Alain Gachet, CEO Radar Technologies International said the technology is taking advantage of satellite that orbits the earth daily. It shortens the time it takes to identify water resources as compared to the traditional hydrological methods.
Key activities of the eight-months-project are to use remote-sensing exploration technologies to assess groundwater resources, assess capacities and management, and undertake survey of ground water resources of the drought-prone areas.
According to john Rao Nyaoro, Director of Water Resources said although Kenyan is known to be a water-scarce country, yet recent studies have shown that the country has 60 billion cubic metres groundwater resource as opposed to 20 billion surface water. But the country does not know where this water is and the UNESCO-coordinated project like this might just provide the confirmatory test the country has been awaiting.
In Ethiopia, the country has no capacity to harness 40 billion cubic metres of groundwater resources but like her neighbor in the South, it does not know where this water is. Somalia estimates in 1990a before the collapse of the central government was 35 billion cubic metres.
The survey will use the WATEX system developed by Radar Technologies International that will enable rapid precise groundwater assessment for large areas.
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