Two aquifers were discovered in the northern-dry regions of Kenya, in Turkana and Lotikipi basin. The discovery was by a France based Radar Technologies, the Kenyan government and the United Nations with funding from Japan. The possibility of wealth from the newly discovered water came as a new source of hope, not just to people from Turkana, but to Kenyans at large as the Lotikipi aquifer was said to have up-to 207 billion cubic metres of water, which was estimated to have the ability to serve the entire country for 70 years.

However after tests, Simon Chelugui, the Water Cabinet Secretary said the water was too salty for drinking or farming. The saline levels were too high, up-to seven times higher than levels considered safe by the World Health Organization. According to the CS, desalination was not an option as it could be very expensive.

Could this be the water Tullow has been using in its day to day oil drilling activities? In our article on water as the main ingredient of oil drilling, we raised many questions on how Tullow got so much water (10million litres of water per day) that the government could not even provide for its own people. Isn’t it also ironical that we have that much water (250 billion cubic metres of water) laying under from the two aquifers, yet up on the surface both people and livestock are fighting for the same?

What could be done to make the water usable by humans and animals in the area, given the dry weather conditions in the county? With oil, it took a few years before the actual extraction could start. Why shouldn’t the same be for the aquifers? Isn’t water life after all? It is my hope that the government, now years down the line (since the aquifers were discovered in 2013) decide on investing on extraction and desalination of the water, for it is a worthy investment, just as oil is.

Water is used for domestic purposes including cooking, drinking, bathing, washing and cleaning. It is used in agricultural purposes; farming, irrigation, livestock, gardening, fisheries etc. It is used in industrial purposes for manufacturing and in recreation for swimming, rafting, boating among others. Another key sector water is used is in hydro power generation. All of these uses are income generating. If the government could invest in oil in Turkana, I don’t see how investing on the aquifers would be a loss.