Wednesday, January 25, 2012

UNESCO: Combating drought in the Horn of Africa

UNESCO begins mapping groundwater in January in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, in order to bring the population a sustainable water supply. Drought has caused the region’s worst famine in 60 years, with 12 million people at risk of starvation. Those living in refugee camps are particularly vulnerable.

Thanks to advances in geosciences, it is now possible to detect the precise location of groundwater in arid climates like that of the Horn of Africa. UNESCO is using new remote-sensing technology developed by Radar Technologies International to generate high-resolution groundwater potential maps of the area under study. These maps will in turn guide partners in determining where to drill boreholes to bring the water to the surface in a cost effective manner. These partners include UNHCR, UNICEF, USAID and a number of NGOs.

The first stage of the project is being supported by Flemish funds to the tune of US$396,000 with an additional US$100,000 from UNESCO. It involves a series of national consultations organized by UNESCO to mobilize stakeholders, partners and potential donors, followed by a regional workshop and the mapping of groundwater at pilot sites in Ethiopia and Kenya.

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