UN water project in Northern Africa receives additional funding
A United Nations project to help Northern African countries manage shared groundwater through nuclear science has received a $1 million grant from an independent body that provides grants to developing countries for projects benefiting the global environment and promoting sustainable livelihoods in local communities.
The grant from the Washington-based Global Environment Facility (GEF) supplements the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) technical cooperation project for managing the Nubian Aquifer, one of the world's largest underground sources of water.
Since 2003, the IAEA has been helping the four Nubian countries – Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan – to use isotope techniques, a key analytical tool of nuclear science, for understanding and mapping water resources, eventually leading to the sustainable production of drinking water and improved agricultural production.
Additional benefits will be a reduction of the population pressure on urban areas, and improved control of desertification.
What is known so far is that under present climatic conditions, the Nubian Aquifer’s groundwater is sparsely recharged by Nile water seepage in a few areas, by precipitation in some mountain regions, and by groundwater influx from the Blue Nile/Main Nile Rift system.
The ancient waters, stretching approximately across 2 million square kilometres beneath the four countries, are a significant source for drinking and irrigation. The aquifer is the only source of freshwater in Egypt’s western desert, which covers about 68 per cent of the country.
The UN Development Program (UNDP) is among the international partners of the project, which seeks to develop a groundwater management plan based on a monitoring network for the aquifer.