By George Achia
An initiative to build the capacity of water scientists to manage groundwater more sustainably in the horn of Africa was launched in Nairobi, Kenya by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The initiative is a response to water shortage crisis that continue to afflict millions of people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Dubbed “Strengthening capacity to combat Drought and Famine in Horn of Africa”, the project aims at addressing knowledge acquisition and appropriate use of resources available by mobilizing scientific knowledge and policies on utilization of natural resources hence contributing to disaster management.
It will also identify and strengthen ground water resources to alleviate drought affected areas within the region.
Speaking during the launch, Prof. Joseph Massaquoi, director of UNESCO Nairobi office noted that developing groundwater resources is now an urgent priority in the region.
“The African countries need to pursue and adapt more sustainable approaches to the use and management of water resources where water quality and quantity are fully integrated,” said Prof. Massaquoi.
“To implement a sustainable water management approach, it is fundamental to improve our knowledge on the availability and use of water resources in terms quality and quantity,” he explained.
Supported by the government of Japan to the tune of USD 1.55 million, the initiative will survey the groundwater in the drought affected Turkana region of North West Kenya using the Watex systems.
The system developed by Radar Technologies International, enables rapid groundwater assessment for large areas using advanced remote sensing exploration technologies, showing drillers of water-wells and where to find water.
Prof. Massaquoi noted that such tools must be combined with policies and skills designed to help manage groundwater more sustainably and build long-term preparedness to drought.
Speaking at the same event, Mr. John Nyaoro, director of Kenya’s water resources, ministry of water and irrigation noted that Kenyan government in conjunction with the government of Japan are developing a national water master plan to assess and evaluate availability, reliability and vulnerability of the country’s water resources.
“The water demands are increasing with population growth and also social economic development. Further, the global climate change is becoming a great challenge in Kenya,” said Mr. Nyaoro.
The initiative is a contribution of UNESCO to the new regional framework on Groundwater Resources Investigation for Drought Mitigation in Africa Programme, a consortium of scientific partner, US Geological survey that aims to assess groundwater potential and build drought management capacities across the Horn of African region and other parts of Africa.