How Innovation can Unlock Kenya’s Groundwater Potential Amid Persistent Water Scarcity

Dur­ing a recent prayer break­fast, I expe­ri­enced a long-await­ed and tru­ly cap­ti­vat­ing ses­sion with renowned water experts Dr. Alain Gachet, Clement Gachet and their team mem­bers. The­world-renowned duo intro­duced me to a ground­break­ing inno­va­tion that show­cased how tech­nol­o­gy can trans­form our future rela­tion­ship with water.

The team has devel­oped a ground­break­ing tech­nol­o­gy known as WATAI, that could rev­o­lu­tion­ize how we access and man­age the pre­cious resource. Dr. Gachet, renowned for his dis­cov­ery of a mas­sive under­ground fresh­wa­ter mass in Turkana Coun­ty, employs advanced hydro­ge­ol­o­gy, geo­physics, and satel­lite imagery to pin­point and man­age ground­wa­ter with unprece­dent­ed accu­ra­cy and effi­cien­cy. It not only iden­ti­fies the best drilling sites but also opti­mizes resource use, reduc­ing explo­ration costs by up to 80% and ensur­ing sus­tain­able extraction.

This rev­e­la­tion fas­ci­nat­ed me, not least, because of Kenya’s dire for sus­tain­able water solu­tions. The coun­try grap­ples with a severe water cri­sis, harsh­ly high­light­ed by the fact that each Kenyan has access to just 600 cubic meters of water annually—far below the UN’s rec­om­mend­ed min­i­mum of 1,000 cubic meters. With only 60% of the pop­u­la­tion access­ing safe drink­ing water and a mere 30% hav­ing basic san­i­ta­tion facil­i­ties, the nation faces a dire sit­u­a­tion inten­si­fied by cli­mate change’s errat­ic pat­terns of droughts and floods.

How­ev­er, the cri­sis presents a hid­den oppor­tu­ni­ty – Ground­wa­ter! Com­pris­ing 97% of the world’s avail­able fresh­wa­ter, ground­wa­ter remains under­uti­lized in Kenya, where accord­ing to var­i­ous sources, only about 15% of the coun­try’s water resources have been devel­oped. This untapped poten­tial offers a sus­tain­able answer to our water woes, less vul­ner­a­ble to the imme­di­ate impacts of cli­mate change com­pared to sur­face water.

A sur­pris­ing aspect of the WATAI tech­nol­o­gy is its acces­si­bil­i­ty through a smart­phone app, mark­ing it the first of its kind glob­al­ly. This app has the capac­i­ty to find water at depths of up to 80 meters—beyond which, the experts argue, fur­ther drilling becomes a waste­ful use of resources.

Please under­stand, this is not about mar­ket­ing a prod­uct, because there are indeed many ways of find­ing and extract­ing ground water. My inten­tion is to under­score the place of inno­va­tion in sup­port­ing the pur­suit of the glob­al sus­tain­abil­i­ty goals, enhanc­ing envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty through man­aged aquifer recharge and afforesta­tion to ensure water extrac­tion doesn’t harm eco­log­i­cal bal­ance. We must seek and find effi­cient ways iden­ti­fy­ing sta­ble and reli­able water sources, cru­cial for agri­cul­ture and food secu­ri­ty, and fos­ters rur­al eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, even amidst severe weath­er fluctuations.

The urgency of adopt­ing such solu­tions can­not be over­stat­ed. Experts esti­mate that up to ten mil­lion Kenyans cur­rent­ly rely on con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed sur­face water, lead­ing to pre­ventable water­borne dis­eases and poor san­i­ta­tion. Ground­wa­ter, typ­i­cal­ly clean­er and safer, could dras­ti­cal­ly reduce these health risks and improve pub­lic health out­comes across the country.

While the poten­tial ben­e­fits are clear, chal­lenges such as the need for sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment and the risk of resource deple­tion through over-extrac­tion must be addressed. Sus­tain­able man­age­ment prac­tices, includ­ing reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing, pro­mot­ing recharge, and pro­tect­ing recharge areas, are cru­cial. These mea­sures ensure that ground­wa­ter remains a viable solu­tion for future generations.

Kenya stands at a crit­i­cal junc­ture. By har­ness­ing the hid­den wealth beneath our feet and lever­ag­ing such cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies, we can move towards water self-suf­fi­cien­cy. The task before us there­fore, is to turn inno­v­a­tive blue­prints into scal­able real­i­ties. It is a call to action for all stakeholders—policymakers, com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, and citizens—to sup­port and imple­ment water solu­tions which inte­grate mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy with tra­di­tion­al water man­age­ment prac­tices. This shift not only secures a sus­tain­able water sup­ply but also dri­ves eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and improves pub­lic health.

Let us be the van­guards of change, ensur­ing water secu­ri­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty through con­scious, col­lec­tive action. Ground­wa­ter is not mere­ly an alter­na­tive; it is the future. And appro­pri­ate tech­nol­o­gy is the key that will unlock it. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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