Kenya’s Water Crisis Averted

The world’s surface is estimated to be 71% salt water, and only 2.5% freshwater. Potable water is water deemed safe enough for direct human or animal consumption. In the African continent, poor access to safe drinking water is a concern for both rural and urban environments. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 40% of all people globally who lack access to drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa, and only 61% of the people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to improved water supply sources compared to 90% or more in Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Africa. Not only is access a challenge, but the potential for contamination is greatly increased by various factors such as; improper maintenance of wells, open-air makeshift landfills and carwashes, accidental contamination from industry spills, and poor disposal practices. Africa’s water crisis has been a daily reality for its inhabitants; especially those in the rural areas, however, a glimmer of hope arose for Kenya with the discovery of the Lotikipi Basin aquifer. Characterization of the subsurface conditions  was conducted by Radar Technologies International, and the final technical report was published in August 2013 . The aquifer is located in Turkana -Northwest region of Kenya, and contains approximately 200 Billion cubic meter of fresh water. This volume has the potential to supply enough potable water for at least 70 years or longer if properly managed. The challenge, though surmountable, is in accessing the aquifer; located 300 meters (m) below ground surface. Todays’ drilling technologies can easily reach such depths and proceed deeper. Cable Tool Drilling (CTD) is a viable option in developing nations with lower labor and equipment costs. Typical CTD machines can drill down to 340 meters or deeper depending on the attached drill fittings, and can achieve surface penetration of 7.6 meters (25 ft.) to 18 meters (60 ft.) of hard rock per day. Although this drilling method has largely been surpassed in recent years by other faster drilling techniques, it is still the most practicable drilling alternative for large-diameter deep bedrock wells in developing nations.
Even so, when access is achieved, frequent monitoring of the aquifer as well as the adjoined systems would be necessary to maintain the pristine quality of the water source. Ground water is naturally protected from surficial contamination, and is unaffected by drought conditions.
As the water is piped into urban areas, safety measures are required to ensure the distribution system is not compromised. Wastewater treatment systems and facilities must be well maintained to meet the growing demand. In a way, this discovery has arrived just in time as innovators arise and provide the community with alternatives to the traditional ways of life and technological norms.





Winnie Okello

About Winnie Okello

I Graduated from Bucknell University with a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering. I Currently work in the Transportation Sector where I oversee The Strategic Recycling Program for promoting, and facilitating the use of recycled materials in civil engineering applications. I also facilitate the state-wide stormwater management program and regulatory compliance assurance within the transportation sector. Areas of Specialty: Civil -(Roadway & structural analysis) & Environmental Engineering, Water Resources, Environmental/ Regulatory Compliance, Sustainability, Materials Recycling, Research, and implementation.