The United Nations and Kenyan officials announced on Wednesday the discovery of a huge water source in northern Kenya that the Kenyan government says could supply the country with fresh water for 70 years, reports the BBC.
With water security a growing concern around the world, the discovery of five aquifers in the drought-hit Turkana region of the country could help secure Kenya’s access to the most fundamental of natural resources, reports the New York Times. Two aquifers were discovered using advanced satellite technology and confirmed with drilling, while the other three aquifers still need to be confirmed through drilling, the New York Times reports.
Radar Technologies International, the exploration firm that discovered the aquifers, said in a statement that Turkana holds a minimum reserve of 250 billion cubic meters of water. The two major aquifers that have already been recorded and proven by drilling are estimated to hold 237 billion cubic meters of water between them. The BBC reports that Kenya currently uses about 3 billion cubic meters of water per year.
Out of a population of approximately 41 million people, 17 million Kenyans lack sufficient access to safe drinking water and 28 million are without adequate sanitation, said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) according to the New York Times.
In addition to potentially providing drinking water, the vast underground supplies could also be used as irrigation for crops or to water livestock, says the New York Times.
“This newly-found wealth opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole,” said Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s secretary for the environment, water and natural resources in a UNESCO statement on Wednesday. “We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations.”
Wakhungu added that the Kenyan government hoped the water would be available in a month. “The first priority is to supply water to the people of the area, who have always been water insecure,” she said.