Ethiopia: JRC teams up with UNICEF to locate lifesaving groundwater

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Source: Joint Research Centre

Many areas in Ethiopia are currently facing water-related emergencies due to El Niño-induced drought, which has left 5.8 million people across the country without access to safe water. The JRC has provided satellite images of the worst affected districts so that UNICEF can locate deep water and organise drilling of wells. Otherwise, the affected communities have to rely on expensive commercial trucks to haul in water as rains are too limited to compensate and maintain sufficient water in the shallow groundwater wells.

Groundwater (compared to rivers/lakes or other surface water) supplies 80 % of all drinking water in Ethiopia. The most sustainable groundwater is very deep. To locate it and then to drill and extract it is a major challenge. Information derived from different types of satellite images are important inputs along with geological data in the complex analysis undertaken by hydrologists to map areas of potential groundwater reservoirs and select appropriate sites for drilling.  So far, due to the cost of accessing and processing high-spatial resolution satellite imagery, limited groundwater investigation had been undertaken in this country. UNICEF was able to overcome this problem thanks to JRC support to process and analyse data from various satellite sensors over seven districts, mainly in Afar and Somali regions.

Original article