Huge reserves of underground water in some of the driest parts of Africa could provide a buffer against the effects of climate change for years to come, scientists said.
Researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London have for the first time mapped the aquifers, or groundwater, across the continent and the amount they hold.
‘The largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan,’ the scientists said in their paper.
They estimate that reserves of groundwater across the continent are 100 times the amount found on its surface, or 0.66 million cubic kilometres.
Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi .... said the focus of efforts to improve water supply should be on better collection and storage.
‘The fact is that there is already a tremendous amount of water available for Africa but it is rarely collected’.
A study by UNEP and the World Agroforestry Centre found there is enough water falling as rain over Africa to supply the needs of some 9 billion people.
‘Ethiopia, where just over a fifth of the population are covered by domestic water supply and an estimated 46 per cent of the population suffer hunger, has a potential rainwater harvest equivalent to the population needs of over 520 million people.’
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