High hopes have started turning into blank stares in Turkana and government circles after initial tests showed underground water discovered in the region could not be fit for human consumption.

Reuters reports a government official said that the water is too salty to drink. The vast aquifer of the size of U.S state of Delaware in Lotikipi was deemed as a lasting solution to the water shortage that has gripped Turkana county. However, tests have been carried out on the water-bearing rock and according to the Rift Valley Water Services Board CEO Japheth Mutai, the water is not fit for human consumption.

“The water needs to be desalinated if it is to be used for human consumption, livestock as well as irrigation,” Mutai told Reuters. Desalination will consume a lot of power and it’s an expensive exercise according to Mutai. However, the CEO is optimistic that further studies will bring forth more wells which are less saline.

“We hope to get less saline, clean water as more drilling is underway.” Turkana region has been a drought-stricken region for many years. When the 250billion cubic metre-water-bearing rock was discovered, many thought the underground lakes could alleviate the recurrent hunger crises in the region, with over 130,500 in need of food aid.

Meanwhile United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is seeking more funds to expand the water mapping programme to all parts of the country.

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