Original paper

The Need for Changing Emphasis in Hydrogeological Cooperation with Developing Nations

Foster, Stephen S. D.


Groundwater is immensely important for human water-supply in both the urban and rural areas of developing nations. Estimates for Asia and Latin America alone suggest that more than 1.000 million people are directly dependent upon this source. In those parts of the tropics with a pronounced dry season or more generally arid climate it is also widely used as a source of primary or supplementary irrigation in agricultural development. Although the wide variety of hydrogeological and socioeconomic conditions in developing nations make it difficult to generalise and dangerous to oversimplify their problems, there are similar trends in many Asian and Latin American countries. The situation in sub-Saharan Africa remains different, although the predictions for population increase and urban growth suggest that this region will parallel the situation elsewhere, in the-not-too-distant future. The need for a changing emphasis in hydrogeological cooperation with developing nations is, in the author's opinion, the inevitable consequence of the rapid growth in population, and therefore in water demand and pollution load, that are predicted. They can be summarised as follows: (a) a need for more attention on the maintenance of existing installations rather than the construction of new ones, (b) a need for more emphasis on the management of groundwater resources rather than only on their exploration and development, (c) a need to focus more on the problems of urban water-supply and waste desposal and less on rural issues, (d) a need to consider groundwater quality as well as groundwater quantity.