Over the years, there has been an acute water crisis in various parts of the world. Freshwater only makes up about 3% of the world's total water. This, therefore, means that there is very little freshwater that is available in some of these remote areas. These areas are termed as arid or semi-arid areas. According to the Koundouri (2006), an arid or a semiarid area can be defined as an area that receives rainfall zones of between zero to 300mm and 300mm to 600mm respectively. These areas generally have insufficient rainfall, and the patterns of rainfall are very much liable to probable fluctuations. The arid areas are found in South America, North Africa, some parts of the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition countries such as Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Lesotho, among others also have these conditions in some parts of the country. Water is a very vital resource for any society in the world. It is used in many sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and tourism, technical, name it. To be more exact life cannot continue without water. Currently, there is nearly 25% of the total population in the world that lack sufficient clean and safe water to use this is nearly two billion people (Koundouri 2006). Due to such challenges, there is increasing attention to fresh water sources and this precious commodity is becoming both expensive and scarce. This paper is going analyze and look into the feasibility of various methods for sufficiently providing fresh water in arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya, and then look at the comparisons between the methods while giving viable recommends.
Traditional techniques of supplying fresh water in the arid and semi-arid area in Kenya may be inadequate and insufficient with the acute and frequent water shortages. In order to effectively and efficiently supply fresh water, there are some feasible methods that can be considered. They include water transfer method, harvesting of groundwater, desalination of salty water, as well as the use of isotope technique.
Water Transfer Method
This technique involves moving water from a hydrologic basin to another. This is a very viable method because hydrologic basins can easily be located in arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya (Howard, Mathias, Xin, 2010). Moreover, the technique will tremendously reduce the gap we have between the demand and supply. In these regions, the waters transfer project could be the most appropriate solution to solve the huge demand for water because the availability of water is in a different distribution. In Tanzania, for instance, their government opted for a large scale water transfer project to correct the shortage of water that was brought about by the difference in the change of precipitation during different seasons (Mays 2009). The planning of water transfer project may be very useful to semi-arid areas like Ukambani in Kenya. Recent studies have shown that water transfer technique can hugely meet the demand for water which will consequently promote both agricultural and industrial developments. In these arid regions in Kenya, the transfer of water is a non-renewable resource that will definitely require being put into consideration, because these transfers may efficiently satisfy the demand even though it cannot last for eternity (Mays, 2009). All in all, it is only in the case of severe drought areas which have high capability economically such as Australia and American are suggested to build these kinds of waters transfer projects. Kenya, on the other hand, may suffer economically if they implement this method.
Harvesting of Ground Water by Using Boreholes
Over the years, surface water on the earth is on the verge of disappearing, especially in these arid and semi-arid areas. In future, people in these areas will completely run out of fresh water supply if they fully utilize all of the surface water that is readily accessible. The surface water can easily be accessed and harvested via rivers and freshwater springs (Lorke, 2013). Drilling of boreholes is a very common method in Kenya as a whole, especially in cases of chronic water shortages. There are very methods for drilling boreholes in order to harvest the ground water. Harvesting of ground water is a viable method for arid areas in Kenya because it has low maintenance cost after the initial drilling. Furthermore, the groundwater that is usually tapped is naturally pure and very safe for domestic use, eliminating any treatment costs.
Regardless of its advantages in solving water problems in arid regions in Kenya, open boreholes are vulnerable to contamination (Koundouri, 2006), which can emanate to a chronic outbreak of water transmitted diseases. Nonetheless, there are probable solutions to such cases, such as the use of purification tablets. Another challenge of open boreholes to a community is the likelihood of containing salt. However, this can be solved by secondary water treatment that includes: chemical treatment and boiling. These methods of water treatment are affordable for people in the arid areas of Kenya. Harvesting ground water can, therefore, prove to be a potentially feasible method of acquiring fresh water, hence, increases the supply of fresh water in arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya.
This is another method is desalination of seawater. It is also known as distillation. This technique is among the first methods of water treatment. This method involves removing salt and other minerals from the salty sea water. Over the years, more and more techniques of sea water desalination have been developed and improved to increase the supply of fresh water. Desalination is very feasible in supplying fresh water in arid areas in Kenya because it also removes contaminants (Mays, 2009). Despite the fact that desalination produces relatively low water production on the day-to-day consumption, they can make tremendous improvements in arid regions of Kenya. According to Koundouri (2006) establishing more desalination plants in arid areas would without a doubt increase the production of fresh water; therefore, reduce the pressure in demand for fresh water in these areas.
Using the Isotope Technique
This is an advanced tool that uses isotopes tracers in water to remove salinity. Isotope method contributes to recognize the source of renewable groundwater and salinity. However, the method is unable to provide the exact research to problems like depleting the quality of groundwater as well as deteriorating the quality of water in general. Therefore, even though it provides a solution to the problem, it reduces the quality of water. IT is may be used in extremely adverse conditions of shortage of water. Moreover, it may require advanced and expensive technologies to use which may be hard for the Kenyan economy.
In conclusion, this paper has proved that desalination, using water transfer method, application of the isotope technique, and harvesting of ground water are feasible methods for Kenya to increase the supply of fresh water in arid and semiarid regions. Desalination, using of isotope technology, and using the water transfer treatment may require expensive technology advancements and highly skilled labor which Kenya may strain to acquire and achieve since it is a developing nation. On the other hand, harvesting of groundwater using boreholes is very affordable and requires less technical know-how which Kenya can comfortably achieve. Therefore, across comparison, although all methods are feasible, using boreholes is the best option for supplying fresh water to the arid area in Kenya.
Howard, W., Mathias, S., & Xin, L. (2010). Groundwater Modelling in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Koundouri. (2006). Water Management in Arid and Semi-arid Regions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Lorke, G. (2013). Water treatment: Potable water. Springer Reference. doi: 10.1007/springerreference_30513
Mays, L. (2009). Integrated Urban Water Management: Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: UNESCO-IHP. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
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