Scientific Diplomacy of Groundwater: How the CARA Network Is Strengthening Hydrogeology Capacity-Building in Latin America (#878)

Presented on Thursday, September 12, 2013

Discover how science can be a positive force in the context of political diplomacy in the Scientific Diplomacy of Groundwater Webinar series*.

During this Webinar on the CARA Network you will learn about the great importance of groundwater in Central America and Bolivia, as well as the role of universities and international organizations in building hydrogeologic capacity in these regions.

Groundwater provides the vast majority of the water supply in most tropical and arid regions of the world, yet there were few professional hydrogeologists and little attention paid to groundwater resources in those regions. The CARA Network began in 1999 with the intention of building capacity in hydrogeology and water resource management in Central America and the network has now recently expanded into Bolivia, as well.

The CARA Network has been mostly funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and has initiated master of science hydrogeology programs at six universities in Latin America. These universities are supported by the University of Calgary, the University of Waterloo, and various other universities with hydrogeology programs. This provides an opportunity for Latin Americans to study hydrogeology at a North American academic level, yet in their own countries, in programs applied to their own countries. and in Spanish. To date, the CARA masters’ programs have trained about 200 Latin American hydrogeologists at the M.Sc. level.

CARA Network has also facilitated the creation of local chapters of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. The new Latin American hydrogeologists are now working in their home countries for government agencies, universities, research institutes, private consulting firms, and nongovernmental organizations. As a result, there is now a critical mass of hydrogeologists in each country leading to new policies, research, programs, and projects related to groundwater development, management, and protection.

Challenges faced included:

• Overt mission on the part of the Canadian universities‘ faculties to participate in development
• Stringent bureaucracy of Latin American universities made it difficult to manage funds
• Attracting Latin American hydrogeologists to work at the universities due to the low salary compared to other parts of the water sector.

David Bethune
Faculty of Science ES 1040 , University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
David has worked as a hydrogeologist since 1986 in Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil and Bolivia. David works at the University of Calgary and is the coordinator of the CARA Network ( which has initiated six MSc hydrogeology programs in Latin America and a co-founder of Hydrogeologists Without Borders.
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