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Preventing and Relieving Poverty

Our work was inspired by a research trip to Tanzania, to complete an evaluation of a failing water programme. Here, we use this example to describe how our work seeks to prevent and relieve poverty. These principles apply to a wide range of other development programmes (linked to disaster risk reduction, natural resource management, agriculture, climate change and energy, and infrastructure development).

A water programme in Tanzania aimed to relieve existing poverty, through improved water security, income generation and health. It also aimed to prevent future poverty, by ensuring children (especially girls) could increase their attendance at school, thus receiving an enhanced education. Unfortunately, two repeated problems resulted in projects within this water programme failing:
  • A lack of geological understanding during construction. A limited understanding of geology (e.g., groundwater dynamics) by the team managing the project resulted in groundwater surveys being commissioned at the wrong time of year and limited capacity to manage and supervise the project. 
  • A lack of development understanding by technical experts, including geologists. Individuals had a poor understanding of community development. There was little involvement of the local community, little consultation about where to locate the water projects and minimal efforts to help develop a community ‘water user group’ to manage the project. 
In both situations, communities were provided with water projects that were not fit-for-purpose. They failed shortly after completion or only worked for part of the year. Children and women had to continue walking several kilometres to collect water. Communities were forced to drink dirty and potentially very dangerous, water.

Geology for Global Development is working to change both of these situations, and in doing so directly helping to relieve and prevent poverty.

The first barrier to project success, identified above, can be addressed through improving the understanding of geology within aid and development organisations, and in other organisations involved in delivering projects aimed at relieving and preventing poverty. Greater availability of geology-based resources and enhancing the technical capacity of development staff would have placed these projects on a more sustainable footing. Our contribution would help to facilitate the delivery of a sustainable clean water supply – improving health, access to education, income generation and overall wellbeing.

The second barrier to project success is being addressed through our work to advance the education of geologists (and the public in general) on matters relating to geology and sustainable development. Geology for Global Development aims to improve the contribution of the geology community to efforts to relieve poverty. Our work is introducing new perspectives to geologists, emphasising the importance of geology in affecting the lives and livelihoods of individuals around the world. These skills and perspectives are complementary to the technical skills on which geoscience degree programmes primarily focus, and which largely determine geoscience graduates' employment prospects 

Geology for Global Development seeks to become a world-leading, and the ‘go-to’ organisation for providing advice and expertise on the effective integration of geology into international development projects.