Africa has an incredible amount of untapped water aquifers under the surface of the desert-like continent, according to BBC.
British scientists recently produced a map of Africa’s underwater resources, which shows the continent has 100 times the amount of water below the surface than what is available on the surface.
These newly discovered resources could help the continent significantly, but unfortunately tapping into them is tough. Many of the aquifers have not been refilled in 5,000 years, which means that if tapped incorrectly, they could be depleted quickly.
The study’s lead author stated that:
“High-yielding boreholes should not be developed without a thorough understanding of the local groundwater conditions…[he recommends] boreholes for low-yielding rural water supply and hand pumps” instead.
Helen Bonsor, one of the authors of the paper, commented that:
“Where there’s greatest ground water storage is in northern Africa, in the large sedimentary basins, in Libya, Algeria and Chad..the amount of storage in those basins is equivalent to 75m thickness of water across that area – it’s a huge amount.”
Bonsor went on to say that:
“Much lower storage aquifers are present across much of sub-Saharan Africa…however, our work shows that with careful exploring and construction, there is sufficient groundwater under Africa to support low yielding water supplies for drinking and community irrigation.”
Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s secretary of state for international development, is excited about the possibilities after the discovery, which produced the most detailed map to date of Africa’s hidden water resources.
Mitchell shared that:
“This is an important discovery…this research, which the British Government has funded, could have a profound effect on some of the world’s poorest people, helping them become less vulnerable to drought and to adapt to the impact of climate change.”
Now that the resources have been discovered, the question remains for how to tap into the resources and provide a sustainable water resource for the struggling continent. Many researchers anticipate that with the world shortage on freshwater, resources like this may become the world’s new oil.
Check out the following video for more information about Africa’s water crisis: