22 April, 2012

Africa's Vast Underground Water Reservior

The Democratic Republic of Congo has half of Africa's and one of the  world's largest surface fresh water reserves. Now, for the first time ever, researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London have presented detailed maps of the amount and potential yield of under groundwater resource across the continent. It is immense. Not all of this groundwater storage is available for abstraction, but the estimated volume is more than 100 times estimates of annual renewable freshwater resources on Africa.

This survey and these maps, have the Democratic Republic of Congo as having, too, a huge amount of underground water. And yet in 2011, UNEP reports that an estimated 51 million people in the country (Congo) or three quarters of the population – have no access to safe drinking water. Africa has no shortage of fresh water, and yet the case is no different in most of Africa where very few people have access to clean drinking water; in 2010, UNICEF/WHO reported that more than 300 million people in the Continent are without access to safe drinking water.

Paradoxically, the largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the very dry, mainly Arab North African countries of Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan. In the long run, in future, although northern Africa is dry and mainly covered with deserts, they have massive amounts of water stored underground. As many analysts have been predicting that the continent's future conflicts and wars will mainly be about sharing water resources, these new reports and maps on Africa's huge water potential, is very comforting; such conflicts will hopefully never be. Increasing reliable water supplies, for both drinking and for irrigation. throughout Africa will depend on the development of this groundwater. Groundwater, that all those in authority and concerned, in the Continent, should do their best to protect and care for.

+ British Geological Survey
+ Environmental Research Letters

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