Geology for Global Development

World Water Day 2015

DSC_0802Today is World Water Day, with a special focus on water and sustainable development

Water is a fundamental human need, used for drinking, washing, cooking and sanitation. Yet it is estimated that nearly 800 million people lack access to clean water. More people on the planet own mobile phones than have access to flushing toilets. In the past I’ve seen many places where people have to collect and drink water from unprotected sources. It’s devastating, and one of the most challenging things I’ve had to confront.

A clean water source offers hope and dignity. It impacts so many areas of life – improved health, improved income generation, time for education, gender equality. The impact on a community of a protected water source is transformative.

A geologist’s knowledge of groundwater is vital for both identifying potential sources of water and for the design of projects that will preserve water resources and protect the environment. Working in partnership with other stakeholders, most importantly the beneficiaries of the project, they can ensure successful and sustainable water projects. Sustainable projects require a good understanding of the geoscience, the engineering and community development.

When a project fails due to poor understanding of geoscience or poor understanding of development (sadly I’ve seen both) it leads to further hardship for communities. Resources are wasted and there is a tragic return to sickness, inequality and even fatalities as communities are forced to drink contaminated water.

As a sector we must do all we can to promote sustainable water projects, which in turn strengthen sustainable development. This includes supporting the development sector in understanding and using geoscience, and supporting geoscientists to better understand effective development principles.

We’re committed to both of these. Water is equality. Water is transformative. Water is life.


(Credit: Hudson Shiraku, Kenya)


See more articles published on the theme.

(See also this post originally written for GfGD on World Water Day in 2013, by Tim Middleton)

Joel is the Founder/Director of Geology for Global Development (@Geo_Dev) an organisation working to support geologists to make a sustainable contribution to the fight against global poverty. He is an interdisciplinary researcher, with a PhD in geography (natural hazards), and research interests in multi-hazard frameworks, disaster risk reduction, rural water projects, and sustainable development. This work has taken him to Chile, China, Guatemala, India, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Joel is currently based at the British Geological Survey, and tweets at @JoelCGill.