Water under the Desert

The Sahara Desert is in Africa. It stretched for miles and miles from east to west. If you look at the map you will see how huge this desert really is. Deserts are very arid and have almost no vegetation. Would you believe that once, many, many years ago, the Sahara Desert used to be fertile. With heavy rainfall and tropical climate? Why has it changed?

Well, the theory is that thousands of years ago the climate in the Sahara began to change. Gradually, the climate began to become hotter and hotter; rainfall became less and less frequent, until finally the land dried up. Plants and animals began to die and people who survived moved to other regions.

The Sahara has become the world’s largest desert. It stretches across North Africa for 3000 miles, from Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, from Morocco to the United Arab Republic. The 13 Countries in Africa share the Sahara Desert, but at present only about two million people actually live in the desert itself. This people live in oases, where some water rises to the earth’s surface providing for the needs of the people. Without these oases, life would not possible at all. Life is very poor in these areas. But something has happened that might make life easier for these desert people.

When oil companies were exploring parts of the Sahara looking for oil, abundant supplies of water were discovered under the desert. Most of the water settled underground during the thousands of years when the Sahara was still fertile. The problem was how to bring this underground water to the surface.

In fact the United Arab Republic has finished the New Valley Project in the Western Desert of Egypt. The project, carried out with the assistant of the United Nation Fund, has how completed 2000 wells, each dug several hundred meters deep in order to reach the fresh water. This project is the first of many, and is designed to make the underground water available to all the Sahara nations.

A large development program should be set up, but this would need a detailed survey of all the water resources and the development problem involved. Such a survey is very costly, so financial assistance on an international basis is needed! International cooperation is the key of success in the efforts to make the water under the desert useful to mankind.



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