The fact that Africa is facing the grave issue of draught is not news for anyone and has been widely discussed a countless number of times by different political organizations and media sources. Right now, 345 million people in Africa live without access to safe water. However, this September was marked by a pivotal event, which gave hope that more water sources can be discovered in Africa and that the water problem can be resolved in at least in some parts of the continent.

Five huge aquifers, or underground layers of water-bearing permeable material from which groundwater can be extracted using a water well, were discovered in Turkana County, Kenya, on September 11, 2013.  Radar Technologies International, the natural resources exploration company that discovered the aquifers, reported that these water sources contained “a minimum reserve of 250 billion cubic meters of water,” or about 66 trillion gallons. It has also been reported that rainfall in Kenya and Uganda refilled the aquifers with about 898 billion gallons of water every year. According to UNESCO, the Lotikipi Basin Aquifer is approximately the size of the state of Rhode Island, USA, which has an area of 1,212 square miles. Lotikipi and the smaller Lodwar Basin Aquifer were discovered using advanced satellite technology and confirmed with drilling. The other three aquifers require more drilling in order to be confirmed.

Due to the immense demand on drinking water in Africa, the Kenyan water can be a valuable good in many countries in the continent and can become a great source of income for Kenya if it is sold abroad. However, beyond the trading benefits that can be gained from the newly discovered water sources, the main benefit is the removal of the specter of draught in Kenya. According to the UNESCO, Kenya has a population of about 41 million people, and 17 million of them lack sufficient access to safe drinking water, while 28 million live without adequate sanitation. Malnutrition has been another growing problem in Turkana County and has often been followed by violent cattle raids and fights over scarce resources. Therefore, the new supply of water can promote farming and agriculture in the region by providing water for irrigation and for the livestock, which would help overcome the issue of hunger and hunger-related violence. The examination of the five aquifers has shown that they can serve as a reliable water source for Kenya for the next 70 years.

The five aquifers have been discovered as a result of cooperation between the Kenyan government and UNESCO, with financial assistance from Japan. It is surprising that now, three months after the discovery planted seeds of hope in the hearts of so many people, neither UNESCO nor the Kenyan government have provided any additional information regarding further exploration of the aquifers, especially of the three that still needed additional drilling. Neither does anyone talk about any studies that were supposed to be conducted on the water to determine its quality, or about the ways in which the water, if it is determined to be safe for drinking, is going to be tapped and supplied to the settlements that have no or very little access to drinking water. No one ever explained what interest Japan had in financing the discovery of these aquifers, and whether part of the discovered water is going to be sold to the neighboring countries by the Kenyan government. While all of the aforementioned questions are still waiting to be answered, the news that dropped many jaws this fall continues keeping many people hopeful that the water crisis in Africa can be eliminated with the use of the advanced technology, which has proven successful in helping scientists discover new underground sources of fresh water in Kenya.