Exclusive: Huge water reserve discovered in Kenya

Water comes out of a pipe in Lotikipi. Photo: ITV News

A massive aquifer that holds enough water to meet all of Kenya's needs for 70 years has been discovered, ITV News can reveal.

ITV News correspondent Martin Geissler reports:

The pool, which was found more than 300 metres underground, is so large you could pour Loch Ness into it approximately 25 times.

Pictures: ITV News witnesses the joy of Kenya's massive water find

The aquifer was found 300 metres below the ground in Kenya. Credit: ITV News

What is an aquifer?

  • It is an underground layer of water-bearing material, such as gravel, sand and silt.
  • Water can be extracted from the materials by using a well.

The newly discovered Lotikipi Basin Aquifer could provide water to Kenya for 70 years.

But just as importantly the aquifer is replenished from distant mountains. So it should never run dry, assuming it is managed properly.

We now have a tool that could not only help Kenya, but it could help other countries facing the issues of water scarcity.

– Abou Amani, UNESCO
The Lotikipi aquifer is much larger than the other four discovered in north west Kenya. Credit: UNESCO

Lotikipi in numbers:

  • The aquifer is approximately 100 km (62 miles) by 66 km (41 miles).
  • It has a surface area of 4,164 km2.
  • It contains an estimated 200 billion cubic metres of fresh water.
  • Lotikipi alone holds 900% more than Kenya's current water reserves.

UNESCO and the Kenyan government - funded by Japan - have been using satellite, radar and geological technology in a bid to find supplies of water.

Read: Kenya government minister says water reserve will help the most vulnerable

Water comes out of the pipe on the Lotikipi plain. Credit: ITV News

Earlier this year, they discovered five aquifers in north west Kenya and began exploratory drilling on two. As well as Lotikipi, a much smaller pool of water was found in Lodwar.

The discovery of Lotikipi will be officially announced on Wednesday (11 September) when the Kenyan government will also reveal how they plan to use the resource for the good of the country.

The tribal people in Lotikipi sing a water praying song in front of the pipe. Credit: ITV News

Read: Potential significance of discovery cannot be overstated

UNESCO is also exploring possible new water sources in other Africa countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Abou Amani, a UNESCO scientist who is part of the team who discovered the water told ITV News:

I'm not saying this could solve all of the problems because from finding water to providing water to the population is another step because we need to have investment, we need to put in place infrastructure and so on.

But we have seen the system and the fact water is there, and that is extremely important and it could be a game changer within the country.

– Abou Amani, UNESCO