Can U of T academics turn their African pipeline dream into a reality?

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Can U of T academics turn their African pipeline dream into a reality?

Published on March 28 2013

In an article by Raveena Aulakh at the Toronto Star, University of Toronto's Rod Tennyson, and ESRC's Rolima Verma discuss a project the would supply freshwater to the turbulent, drought-struck Sahel region through an 8,800km pipeline across Africa.

"When Islamist groups ran amok in parts of northern Mali last year, two Toronto academics watched the news on television in despair.

“It was a blow,” says Rod Tennyson, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. “Mali is very important to our plan.”

Romila Verma, who teaches hydrology at U of T, says she wanted to cry. “It was one of the few stable countries in West Africa and I wondered if our plan will ever work.”

The “plan” is a grand one, even if it’s simplistic at its core: providing freshwater to the Sahel region through a pipeline that runs east-west in both directions.

According to the blueprint, two desalinating plants — one in Mauritania, the other in Djibouti — will pump water from the ocean and turn it into freshwater that will then be carried through 8,800 kilometres of pipeline to 11 countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal. Reservoirs every few hundred kilometres will store water, and pumping stations will keep the water pressure going. The water can be used for drinking and for irrigation.

They call it the Trans Africa Pipeline project and estimate it would provide water to about 30 million people. The idea is to build the pipeline with donor money from the West and let the countries it runs though maintain it and run it.

The cost? About $20 billion."...


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