Last week I posted about Maude Barlow in Bolivia ( she recently commented on the post). It was Brendan Mulligan, a Canadian hydrogeologist working for CARA in Bolivia, who alerted me to Barlow's interview and provided some information on Bolivia.
CARA, founded in 1999, is a water resources training network funded primarily by CIDA (Canada's equivalent to USAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (en français: Agence canadienne de développement international ou ACDI). It is run by the Universities of Calgary and Waterloo, with the former the lead university. David Bethune is the coordinator.
[Disclosure notice: I know Dave and some other CARA folks - Larry Bentley, Cathy Ryan, and Dave Rudolph - very well and consider them friends.]
So what is CARA? In its own words:
CARA is a water resource training network focusing on building local capacity to improve the management and protection of Central American water resources. Local capacity is built through high caliber M.Sc. programs, short courses, workshops, field practicum and applied research projects at each of the member universities. The CARA Network promotes a philosophy of partnerships and collaborations of water resource organizations from universities, governments, the private sector, non governmental organizations and international funding agencies.
Each CARA university is publicly-funded and has a mandate to connect to priority national development issues such as water supply, sanitation and watershed management. Each CARA M.Sc. program is supported by, and linked to, Canada and to each other via the CARA Network which facilitates academic collaboration and resource sharing. The CARA M.Sc. programs recognize the very high usage of groundwater in Central America and Bolivia (i.e. 70-90% of all water supplies) and thus a special emphasis is placed on capacity-building the area of hydrogeology and groundwater management.
I first learned about CARA in April 2002 when I visited the University of Calgary's Geosciences Department as its Gallagher Visiting Lecturer and spent a delightful week lecturing and meeting people. I met CARA's Central American students and was impressed with them.
What I like about CARA is that it focuses on capacity-building in the country. In addition to the science, it also emphasizes gender equity issues and community water projects and partcipatory development. View CARA's training record.
I have had some experience with one of CARA's universities,UNAN, through its center CIRA (El Centro para la Investigación en Recursos Acuáticos de Nicaragua - Center for the Study of Nicaragua's Aquatic Resources). One of my former UNM Master's students, Erin Carroll, did her thesis on the water quality of the Boaco area and did most of her analyses at CIRA. I was impressed with CIRA's facilities.
As the article states, CARA expanded (2007) into Bolivia at the University of San Francisco Xaxier in Sucre, where the focus is on Hydrogeology and Water Resources Management.
University of Calgary graduate Brendan Mulligan coordinates CARA’s program at Saint Francis Xavier University, in Sucre, Bolivia, which will graduate its first class of ten students in May 2010. These graduates will be water managers as well as scientists, says Mulligan – “able to look at water from a number of different angles.”
Students in the program learn how to monitor and map groundwater, of course. They also learn about groundwater-related legislation, about the relationship between gender and water and community relation skills. Finally, each student in CARA’s Masters program must carry out an applied research project responding to groundwater management concerns that have been raised by Bolivian municipalities, NGOs, provincial governments and other institutions.
Here is what Brendan told me in his email:
Several of our Bolivian students are carrying out their thesis research in El Alto and another is carrying out his thesis research at a "bofedal"
(high altitude wetland) on the flanks of Illimani, the iconic mountain that looms over La Paz.
These students will undoubtedly play major roles in address Bolivia's water problems.
Some of the CARA folks are involved with Hydrogeologists Without Borders (HWB), so they talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to hydrophilanthropy.
Great concept; my hat's off to these folks - Canadians and Latin Americans.
Wouldn't it be nice if USAID or some foundation funded some US universities to do something similar? I can dream, can't I?
" The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies." -- Lester B. Pearson