What Lies under Africa
Scientists claim that under the dry African continent there are large reservoirs of underground water, whose total capacity is one hundred times greater than the amount of water on the surface. Across Africa, more than 300 million people don’t have the access to clean drinking water. Need for water will increase significantly in coming decades due to population growth and the need for crop irrigation.
Now the experts of the British Geological Survey (BGS) and University College London (UCL) for the first time succeeded in making an analysis of the entire continent in search of underground water. “The largest underground water reservoir is located in North Africa, in large sedimentary basins, in Libya, Algeria and Chad,” said Helen Bonsor from BGS, one of the authors of this research. Due to the great climatic changes that have transformed Sahara into a desert, many underground water reservoirs were filled for the last time more than 5 000 years ago.
According to researchers, the new maps show that many countries that are currently rated as “water poor” have considerable reserves of underground water. Scientists are, however, cautious about the best way to access these hidden resources. “You should put a large hole without a full understanding of the local condition of underground water. Less wells for water delivery in rural areas would be much more successful,” told Alan MacDonald, a head researcher. Since many tanks are not filled due to the lack of rainfall, scientists are concerned that large reservoirs of water could be exhausted very quickly.