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Discovery of Aquifers Could Provide Needed Water to Northern Kenya

The discovery of two large underground aquifers has brought hope to northern Kenya, where poor access to clean water has plagued millions. Photo by Jake Lyell.
The discovery of two large underground aquifers has brought hope to northern Kenya, where poor access to clean water has plagued millions. Photo by Jake Lyell.

Families living in Kenya face many hardships. From food insecurity to a lack of access to health care, many children and their families struggle to survive. Last year, Kenya and other countries in the Horn of Africa endured one of the worst droughts in more than half a century, and until recently, it seemed likely that long dry spells were going to continue to burden the region.

However, the recent discovery of a huge underwater aquifer has brought hope to Kenya, and it could provide water to thousands of families across the country.

Drilling for Hope

Turkana, a province in northern Kenya, is one of the areas that was hit hardest by the drought of 2012, and until the recent discovery, many families had little access to clean water. The drought forced thousands of people to relocate to areas where water was more prevalent, and sadly, some families and their children did not survive these arduous journeys. However, the discovery of two huge aquifers deep underground in Turkana and the Lotikipi Basin have brought hope to families in this arid part of the country.

One of the water reserves is approximately the size of Delaware and was uncovered by scientists using radar and satellite technology. Test drilling was undertaken to confirm the discovery, and now, thousands of families could soon have access to clean, safe drinking water.

"The news about these water reserves comes at a time when reliable water supplies are highly needed," said Kenya's environment minister, Judi Wakhungu. "This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole. We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations."

Further Discoveries

The two aquifers that have been discovered will alleviate the devastating impacts of last year's drought for families across northern Kenya. Also, three additional underground water reserves are suspected to lie deep beneath the surface in Turkana, and further drilling and analysis are being done to confirm whether scientists' expectations are correct.

Approximately 17 million people of Kenya's 41 million population do not have access to safe drinking water. Combined with erratic rainfall and prolonged dry spells, the discovery of the aquifers could not have come at a better time. Subterranean water sources have also been found in drought-stricken Namibia. In light of the discoveries, Wakhungu said additional resources were needed to gauge the true extent of Kenya's untapped underground water supplies and secure adequate sources of clean water for families and children in need living across the country.

Meeting Urgent Needs

Although the discovery of the Turkana aquifers is welcome news for families living in this arid region, other countries in the Horn of Africa continue to struggle. ChildFund operates in several areas affected by drought and works to provide clean drinking water and other essentials to children and their families.

One way you can support these efforts is by making a donation to our Emergency Action Fund. Even a small donation will allow ChildFund to provide aid to families affected by natural disasters, including droughts. Alternatively, becoming a monthly giving partner enables you to help provide essentials such as food, clean drinking water and medical supplies where the need is greatest.

ChildFund works in some of the world's poorest countries to provide aid to children and families living in poverty, but we could not do so as effectively without your help. Please consider making a donation to our Emergency Action Fund, becoming a monthly giving partner or sponsoring a child today. Your generosity will make a world of difference.

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