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The Groundwater Access Facility (GaFa) for the Horn of Africa's borderlands would enable critical investments in pre-feasibility analysis and project pipeline development in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Use Groundwater Access Facility to Boost to Tackle Drought in Eastern Africa

By United Nations Development Programme
Published May 14, 2023

Ethiopia and The Netherlands in partnership with World Bank Group, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children Fund and Children Investment Funds Foundation have called for the creation of a Groundwater Access Facility (GaFa) to sustainably use millions of cubic kilometers of untapped groundwater reservoirs in the Horn of Africa.Ethiopia and The Netherlands in partnership with World Bank Group, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children Fund and Children Investment Funds Foundation have called for the creation of a Groundwater Access Facility (GaFa) to sustainably use millions of cubic kilometers of untapped groundwater reservoirs in the Horn of Africa.

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The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in 73 years, with hunger and water shortages affecting more than 15 million people across Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South-Sudan and Sudan. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, more than 36 million people need emergency assistance to survive and up to 26 million of them are acutely food insecure.

“Countries need to come together for urgent regional integration and cooperation for shared water resources and mutual benefits, if we are supposed to accelerate and achieve the SDGs,” says Eng Habtamu Itefa, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Energy.

The region is rich in underground water which, with the right development investments, could become a sustainable and climate-resilient source of water for the whole region. The Groundwater Access Facility (GaFa) for the Horn of Africa’s borderlands would enable critical investments in pre-feasibility analysis and project pipeline development in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

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The Groundwater Access Facility (GaFa) for the Horn of Africa's borderlands would enable critical investments in pre-feasibility analysis and project pipeline development in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

“The discovery of deep groundwater lakes in the Horn of Africa is a game-changing opportunity to provide a sustainable solution to the suffering of millions in the region. We must collaborate across the UN system with the World Bank Group, regional bodies and Member States to create investment facilities for this innovative solution,” emphasises Ahunna Eziakonwa, United Nations Assistant-Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Africa.

In the Horn of Africa, water is central to accelerating development, social cohesion, and conflict resolution, particularly in borderlands areas. Borderlands areas across Africa are home to over 40 million people facing complex socio-economic development, security, and climate change impact challenges, where the need for accelerated sustainable development is urgent.

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“Groundwater provision can play a key role in increasing resilience, bringing development and stability. It is often the only reliable source in times of drought. However, it is still most underexploited and we now need a regional approach and long-term framework for the area,” says Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Group’s Director for Regional Integration in Africa.

“Individual initiatives are not sufficient in addressing the water crisis and mobilizing effective and lasting response in this region. It will only be through joint, ambitious, collective actions that we will be able to foster a water secure region,” Sanjay Wijeskera, Director of Programmes, UNICEF, says.