Researchers Discover Huge Underground Water Reserves In Africa

By Meera Dolasia on April 26, 2012

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While fresh water reserves are declining in many parts of the world, nowhere is the situation as dire as the continent of Africa where, over 300 million people have no access to safe drinking water and only 5% of the arable land is being irrigated.

Now, there is finally some good news - Researchers from the British Geological Survey and University of College London recently revealed the discovery of a large source of underground water, which hopefully will provide a buffer for the continent, during severe drought years.

According to the research team, while the 0.66 million cubic kilometers of underground reserves are spread across the continent, a bulk of them are located in aquifers under some of the Africa's most arid countries - Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Chad and Sudan. While that may not sound like a lot of water, it is 100 times more than that currently found on the ground.

The researchers who put together this data by gleaning over maps based on hundreds of government geological and aquifer studies, believe that most of the water accumulated about five thousand years ago, when the region was much wetter.

While this is tremendously encouraging news, there are many hurdles to accessing this water. First and foremost, there is the issue of distance - A lot of the underground reserves are about seventy-five meters deep, and therefore, impossible to extract by digging small boreholes and drawing it up with the help of hand pumps. While large commercial drilling projects could do the job, it is expensive and experts worry that they could rapidly deplete all the water, leaving the continent in an even worse situation, given that they would never get replenished.

Also, there is the question of the quality of the water - The researchers have no idea if the water is contaminated or possibly even salty. Having said that, some of the water is on higher ground and could provide a lifeline for some communities when things get really bad, since it can be drawn up using affordable hand pumps.

Experts from the United Nations Environmental Program are therefore urging African countries not to even attempt to access this newly found reserves but instead, focus on improving the ground water supply by creating better collection and storage tools. According their spokesperson, Nick Nutalli, there is currently a lot of water available, but it is rarely collected. Hopefully, things will change in the near future.

Resources: examiner.com, dailymail.co.uk, bbc.co.uk

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181 Comments
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  • landoncollins21Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 10:06 am
    poor kids, i feel crappy for not helping
    • _little_sox_fanSunday, April 10, 2016 at 11:46 am
      if you look up pics of poor african kids their stomachs are swollen bacause they are starving to death! help these poor people!
      • Aleks PreijersFriday, February 5, 2016 at 10:17 am
        London Underground
        • AnonymousThursday, May 28, 2015 at 9:50 pm
          That is pretty cool
          • Dman12Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 7:55 am
            That so cool
            • BRITTNEYWednesday, March 4, 2015 at 9:42 am
              SWAG!!!!! HELP THE WORLD ONE WATER DROP AT A TIME
              • leap413
                leap413Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 5:59 am
                The map/diagram is very interesting.
                • leap43le
                  leap43leWednesday, February 18, 2015 at 5:58 am
                  :)
                  • leap414
                    leap414Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 5:57 am
                    I wonder how the results of the water came out like. Is it poisonous, harmful, or safe.......................
                    • leap43le
                      leap43leWednesday, February 18, 2015 at 5:56 am
                      cool

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