Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater.
They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface.
The team have produced the most detailed map yet of the scale and potential of this hidden resource.
Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, they stress that large scale drilling might not be the best way of increasing water supplies.
…With many aquifers not being filled due to a lack of rain, the scientists are worried that large-scale borehole developments could rapidly deplete the resource…
The publication of the new map was welcomed by the UK’s secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell.
“This is an important discovery,” he said. “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.”
I’m not sure if the scientists and government ministers who deliver these lines about new resource development being a boon to the poorest people of the region really believe what they’re saying or just know that’s the proper thing to say. At best, they’ve narrowed their view of realities on the ground and failed to see the implications of their research and rhetoric.
Even the most rudimentary understanding of contemporary global socioeconomics plus these hydrological maps divided by Occam’s razor equals more unsustainable development – like this.