Eritrea: Geothermal for food security: Just released

Journal Arabian Geosciences  Sept 2018


Water resources management using geothermal energy: Eritrea


Dornadula Chandrasekharam1*, Aref Lashin2, Nassir Al Arifi3, Abdulaziz Al-Bassam4 and Varun Chandrasekhar5

1 Professor, India Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Hyderabad 502285, India; Visiting Professor, King Saud University, Riyadh; 2 Professor, Department of Petroleum and Gas Engineering, King Saud University, Riyadh; 3Professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics, College of Science, King Saudi University, Riyadh;4 Professor, Department of Geology, King Saud University, Riyadh, 5 GeoSyndicate Power Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, India



Eritrea is a country with rich gold, silver and basemetal deposits and geothermal energy resources associated with all the five volcanoes located within the Danakil graben. Due to low rain fall the country has to depend on imported food and food imports have crossed > 46 % in the recent years. Although the cultivable land is about 16000 km2 only 5030 km2  land is being cultivated due to insufficient water resources. The per capita water requirement is projected to fall below 1300 m3/y from the present 1470 m3/y. The country’s GDP has fallen from 1.3% in 2013 to 0.3% in 2015. Each geothermal province associated with the active volcanoes can support to generate 445 million m3 of desalinated water from the Red Sea.  Providing basic needs like water and energy will boost the country’s economy and lift the socio-economic status of 6 million people in the country.


Keywords: Groundwater, water security, food security, geothermal resources, desalination,  Alid, Danakil


  1. Introduction

 Land degradation occurs due to lack of rainfall and groundwater resources. Depending on the frequency of rainfall, the region eventually may become a desert, exerting severe stress on the economy of the country (MoA, 2002). One such country along the western coast of the Red Sea is Eritrea. Eritrea hosts some of the world’s richest VMS deposits (volcanogenic massive sulphide) and shear hosted mineral and metal deposits (Barrie, et al., 2007, Yager, 2015) and has huge geothermal energy potential that are not explored and exploited. As a result the country’s economic growth has fallen from 1.3% in 2013 to 0.3% in 2015 (Magidu and Okumu, 2016).  Issues related to environment, poverty and unemployment are hampering the inclusive growth of the country. Greater than 80 % of the population depend on agriculture for livelihood. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA, 2002) has initiated a national action programme to mitigate land degradation issues. The main crux of the issue that the ministry or the government of Eritrea or the financial aid banks such as ADB, in general, should realise is the country’s water and energy security.