Friday, 6 May 2011

Applying Technologies from Developed to Developing Countries

While there is a significant need for geologists to engage with international development, there's also a tremendous importance in developing tools, skills and technology in developed countries. In many situations, businesses, universities and governments of developed countries are willing to invest significant amounts of money in developing technologies and tools. This investment can often not be matched by many developing countries, but the technologies developed could eventually have a global use and be of benefit to millions in poverty. 

For example, the intrusion of saltwater into freshwater aquifers is a global problem, and a problem likely to increase if and when sea-levels rise, and coastal cities grow. Developing the technology to monitor and control this influx will require investment, research and development - and yet the outcome could be a relatively cheap technology that can be used globally. Coastal aquifers in the UK and Tanzania could equally benefit from similar technology.

Typical Coastal Aquifer (From: USGS)

A further example was published in the New York Times today, analysing the most and least safe cities affected by a number of natural hazards (including weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, hail and storms, floods and droughts, and earthquakes). The study gives an 'overall risk' map combining these events, and separate maps for hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Little information is given on how the 'overall risk' map was generated... the individual maps were generated using historical data and assessments from the USGS. The lack of description and methodology means it is hard to critically analyse the data within this multi-hazard risk assessment, and how it has been compiled. The development of software tools and methodologies for developed countries with a high risk of damage by multi-hazards (e.g. Japan, USA, China etc) could be extremely useful for developing countries which also suffer from a range of natural disasters such as landslides, floods, droughts, earthquakes (e.g. Nepal, Uganda etc).

Source: New York Times