- Enormous aquifers were discovered in northern Kenya, one of the driest places in sub-Saharan Africa. Why in the world are water resources so scarce when the region is home to Lake Turkana, one of the biggest lakes in eastern Africa? Read our article “Weird Waters” for a clue.
- Lake Turkana is not a freshwater lake. In fact, it is one of the largest saline (salty) lakes in the world.
- Look at some of the map layers explored in our “media spotlight” on the “Geography of Lake Turkana.” In particular, study the region’s climate zones, precipitation, and land-cover patterns. (You may need to adjust the transparency!) How do these map layers explain how the discovery of the aquifers is of such monumental importance for Kenya?
- climate zones: The climate of northern Kenya is either semi-arid or humid, with a long dry season. The BBC article backs this up, reporting that the region is one of the driest in Kenya.
- precipitation: Average annual rainfall in northern Kenya is very low, usually no more than 600 millimeters (60 centimeters, or 24 inches). A recent drought, the BBC reports, reduced this resource even further.
- land cover: The region around Lake Turkana is dominated by bare ground, with very little vegetation to conserve moisture in the soil. The rest of northern Kenya is mostly made up of grasslands. The article says these areas are often used for herding. A small region in eastern Kenya is used for crops. Both herding and farming demand water for animals and irrigation purposes, putting a strain on water supplies.
- Ikal Angelei, a community activist quoted in the BBC article, says the Kenyan government needs to engage with local communities about how resources from the new aquifers will be developed. (For more on Ikal Angelei, read our “case study” of her organization, Friends of Lake Turkana.) What are some competing interests for water in northern Kenya?
- health and hygiene
- agriculture—irrigation for crops, feed for animals
- industry—according to the USGS, “[p]robably every manufactured product uses water during some part of the production process . . . fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product; or for sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility.”
Thanks to one of our favorite geographers, Emily, for the heads-up on this great current-event connection!