Somalia Should Pipe West African Water


A drought responsible for the lowest amount of rain in 50 years has caused a return of famine in the Horn of Africa, in Southern Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. There was a similar episode 20 years ago, and a solution is needed for this recurrent problem.

While there is an immediate need for relief, work must also begin now on pipelines to redistribute the overabundance of water in West Africa to the dry regions of Northeast Africa. Four of the top 15 wettest nations on earth are in West Africa, including: Guinea, which ranks #1, Sierra Leone #3, Gabon #4, and Nigeria #15.

Guinea has a 200-mile Atlantic coast (9 N) and a rainy season from May through Dec. Sierra Leone (8 N), bordering Guinea, also has a swampy 210-mile Atlantic shore, which receives 195 inches of rain each year (April-Dec.) These poor states could benefit greatly from the sale of rain water to the dry regions. Gabon, in the elbow of West Africa (0 N), and also on the Atlantic, has Sep. through May rains. Nigeria, located on the West African south coast, has rain from April through Oct.

Gabon and Nigeria, both rich from oil revenues, have money to finance water pipelines, and experience from pumping oil. They could join with the Economic Community of West African States (ECWAS) to finance two water pipelines, one along a northern route, from the Atlantic at Guinea and Sierra Leone, due east through Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and into Somalia. A southern equatorial pipeline could start in Gabon and go east through the Congo, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, and also into Somalia.

Pipelines would bring a more permanent solution to the recurrent problem. The last time Somalia needed aid, Operation Somalia was authorized in 1992, but relief could not be delivered due to fighting in Mogadishu. President George H. W. Bush decided to prevent mass starvation by authorizing a U.S. Marine airlift. When President Clinton took office in 1993, he increased the size of the mission, under Operation Somalia II. When the U.S. started seizing weapons, however, they were accused of neo-colonialism, causing a Mogadishu mob to down two U.S. helicopters and murder U.S. soldiers, bringing the relief mission to an end.

The drought stricken area should not have to rely on airlifts for relief. Pipelines can and should be built. It’s just a matter of leadership, intergovernmental cooperation, and willpower.

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One Comment to “Somalia Should Pipe West African Water”

  1. The U.S. has the former French base, Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti, Horn of Africa. This area is Muslim and still considered part of a combat area for the war on terror. Yemen is 20 miles east across the Gulf of Aden and to the south is Somalia home of the maritime pirates. The concentration in this area is to guard the Red sea and Suez Canal connecting the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean mainly for the transport of oil. Unfortunately, until the area stabilizes not much can be improved upon and it will remain arid.

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