GROUNDWATER is a vital resource for Africa and its use can alleviate water shortages across the continent, says Prof Tamiru Abiye of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
Speaking at his inaugural lecture recently, the professor of hydrogeology said even regions such as North Africa, which receive little rain, are rich with groundwater. Libya has the continent’s most abundant supply of water stored inside rocks.
… Abiye deals with groundwater from a geological aspect, but says there is a need to understand it from different angles because of its multidisciplinary nature. Geo-hydrology focuses on the hydrological aspect of groundwater and differs from hydrogeology, which focuses on the role of rocks in controlling the occurrence of groundwater.
… Abiye’s other area of interest is the effect on people of fluorosis, caused by an excess of fluoride. It is a common problem in SA. Rocks such as pumice, ignimbrite, volcanic ash and obsidian are major sources of fluoride in groundwater.
Abiye says to tackle this issue one of two things can be done: the government can treat fluoride and provide drinking water, or it can identify rocks that contain low fluoride concentrations.
Some governments are listening to these suggestions.
It is appropriate that Wits leads knowledge in groundwater production, he says, because the name “Witwatersrand” refers to the groundwater that runs under the land on which it was built.