Celia Willoughby, UCL Geography student and GfGD Ambassador, writes about a recent event…
Wednesday 19th November, saw the first UCL GfGD lecture of the year, taken by guest speaker Prof. Richard Taylor. Professor of hydrogeology in UCL’s Geography Department, his most recent focus of research is the study of groundwater, and the effects of climate change on groundwater supplies. The application of scientific skills to facilitate global development is key in Prof. Taylor’s research, which is why he was deemed a perfect speaker for our first event of the year. His lecture, Aquifers: their crucial role in poverty alleviation managed to be both thoroughly engaging and informative — as well as incredibly relevant to the work of GfGD.
Prof. Taylor drew upon his work with with The Chronicles Consortium, which he co-chairs. The Chronicles Consortium is a collection of scientists across Africa and beyond who analyse multi-decadal records of groundwater levels. The group aim to monitor the impacts of climate variability and change, groundwater use and land-use change on groundwater storage across Africa. The information is stored and scrutinized, and is used to examine how best to approach the issue of water shortage, particularly across sub-Saharan Africa.
Keen to stress the importance of taking a ‘back-seat’ in poverty alleviation, Prof. Taylor explained the importance of using local experts to lead research projects in order to promote sustainability. Too often have experts from abroad travelled to Africa to build pumps for water access, for example, without acknowledging the long-term management implications. Although perfectly serviceable at first, pumps will need to be maintained regularly to ensure functionality. Local experts will not only know how to best meet the needs of the local population, but will be able to ensure continual effectiveness of the project.
Celia Willoughby is a second year BA Geography undergraduate. She worked with GfGD over the summer of 2014 in the students’ education programme in Ladakh, India. She is very passionate about the work of GfGD, and is interested in facilitating development through scientific skills gained from Geology and physical Geography. Celia is a GfGD Ambassador, helping to lead the UCL University Group.