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Pro-poor water technologies working both ways: Lessons from a two-way, south-north interchange

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger


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Pro-poor water engineering aims to deliver water services to individuals and communities in a manner that yields obvious and significant net-benefits to the poorest people. Technology transfer in the field of pro-poor water engineering has too often been seen as one-way (north to south), with industrialised nations exporting their supposedly superior technologies and organisational priorities to the 'grateful poor' in the under-developed world. While north-to-south technology transfer can boast significant successes, failures are more numerous, arguably due to the contrast between technocratic (northern) and communitarian (southern) traditions of water management. There is much the northern countries might learn from the southern perspective. One concrete example illustrates how direct experience of community-based, NGO-fostered development of borehole water supplies in Bolivia led to the conscious adaptation of this model for application to problems of remediation of severe contamination of streams in a former mining district in the UK. This application was highly successful, leading to the development of robust community organisations that have gone on to tackle other social and environmental problems. This experience has in turn prompted the testing of the low-cost, technological approaches to acid drainage treatment developed in the UK case for potential application to similar problems in Bolivia. Following further 'acclimatisation' of the technology, field trials proved successful and led to plans for full-scale application of the approach with community-based NGOs in Bolivia. Lessons are drawn for furthering the implementation of pro-poor, participative strategies in water management in both the North and the South, with brief critical analyses of ParticipacioĢn Popular in Bolivia, and of both policy and polity in relation to community engagement in aspects of water management in Europe. Ā© 2006.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Younger PL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoforum

Year: 2007

Volume: 38

Issue: 5

Pages: 828-840

ISSN (print): 0016-7185

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9398

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2005.10.006


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