Scientists say the drought African continent possesses a wider pool of water below the ground. They believe the total volume of water inside the land is hundred times more than the Earth's surface water. Researchers have published a very detailed review of the hidden reservoir (Source 1).
'Environmental Research Letters also suggested that the extensive digging of wells would not be fair (Source 2). Thirty million people in various parts of Africa have no access to clean drinking water. It is expected that there may be increase in demand for water due to population growth in coming years, and large scale irrigation for farming. Owing to seasonal floods and droughts there may be limited supply of fresh water for farming by rivers and lakes.
Currently, only five percent of the arable land is in irrigation management (Source 3). Remaining ninety five percent is useless or remains dependent on rain water which is also very rare in this region. Now for the first time in the history scientists review underground water reserves across the continent.
The researchers of British Geological Survey (BGS) and University College London collaboratively have created Quantitative maps of these water resources (Source 4). Helen Bonsor also participated in this study. He said that until now no study or research has been made for this underground water. However, after this study we could evaluate the benefits and potential of this wealth.
Over centuries of environmental changes Sahara has become a desert. That is why the underground water reserves might be filled in the last five thousand years. Researchers included two hundred eighty three existing similar maps and governmental studies to conclude detailed analysis. They said that many countries which are declared as low water available may possess large reserves.
However, many scientists say that the problem might not be solved by drilling big wells.
The research team (BGS) leader Dr Alan McDonald said that before understanding the pattern of underground water level and local conditions there should not be digging of large wells. He further said, in future it will play very pivotal role in climate of the Africa (Source 5). He further said that proper identification of places and usage of hand pumps in villages might be helpful. Scientists fear, the lack of rain in this region and digging of large wells may cause the end of this reserve.
Dr. Helen Bonsor says that slow usage of this water would be very beneficial for the future. Moreover, our research proved that in Africa there is availability of fresh water for drinking and for some extent irrigation.