According to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists have discovered a vast underground reservoir of water in Africa, which has dealt with water shortages for decades. The team of researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London say that the reservoir contains 100 times more water than is spread across the surface of the dry continent, and have produced a detailed map of where the underground water supply can be found.
Recent estimates show that 300 million people around Africa do not have access to clean, safe drinking water, and demand is expected to increase dramatically due to population growth and agricultural irrigation needs. The continent's rivers and lakes dry up for long periods during the year, leaving numerous regions without water, particularly in summer months when much of the continent suffers from heat waves that increase human need for water.
The report on underground aquifers in Africa showed that the largest reservoirs are located in Libya, Algeria and Chad. Scientists say the water was likely deposited over 5,000 years ago, before the Sahara region became a desert. While scientists have known for decades that there were underground aquifers containing water across Africa, this is the first time a complete mapping has been done showing just how many water-starving areas of Africa are sitting on top of millions of gallons of clean water.