Vast aquifer found in Kenya’s Turkana region

Photo credit: Google

Lake Turkana

Kenya: First Test Shows Kenya’s Huge Underground Water Find Too Salty to Drink

Nairobi/Rome — Tests on a vast aquifer found in Kenya’s drought-wracked Turkana region show the water is too salty to drink, a government official said on Friday.

The 2013 discovery of underground lakes the size of the U.S. state of Delaware, according to satellite imagery, was hailed as a chance for the arid northern region to finally feed its people.

Turkana water pump - http://onedifference.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Turkana-header.jpg
Turkana water pump – http://onedifference.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Turkana-header.jpg

At the time of the discovery, Kenya’s water minister said the “newly found wealth of water opens the door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole”.

But the first test results from Lotikipi, the largest aquifer which is close to Kenya’s border with South Sudan, have been disappointing.

Turkana homesteads - http://www.turkanamirror.co.ke/wp-content/gallery/lodwar/111129114143-turkana-homesteads-horizontal-gallery.jpg
Turkana homesteads – http://www.turkanamirror.co.ke/wp-content/gallery/lodwar/111129114143-turkana-homesteads-horizontal-gallery.jpg

“The water is not fit for human consumption,” said Japheth Mutai, chief executive officer of the government-owned Rift Valley Water Services Board, which is responsible for providing water in the region.

The underground water would have to be desalinated – an expensive and energy intensive process – before it could be used for human consumption, livestock or irrigation, Mutai said.

The test well, drilled 350 metres underground, showed salt levels seven times higher than the safe limit allowed by the World Health Organization (WHO), he said.

“The numbers don’t look good,” Mutai told Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday. “It is causing a lot of anxiety.”

More than a third of Kenya’s 41 million people have no access to clean water.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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