Issues in Brief, No. 27, March 2013

Water Resources Development: Engineering the Future of Global Health

IIB027 cover imageBy Diana R. Gergel
March 2013 (8 Pages)
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In this Issues in Brief, Pardee 2012 Summer Graduate Fellow Diana R. Gergel argues that not enough attention is paid to the public health challenge of various water-borne diseases and their relationship to the engineering design of dams in developing countries. She explores the ways in which water resources development can be planned and executed to minimize the risk of spreading or worsening water-borne diseases in nearby communities. While water resources development in the form of irrigation systems, dams, and reservoirs is essential to sustainable development on the African continent, they profoundly alter water landscapes and the surrounding ecosystems, leading to the spread of water-borne diseases. She concludes with a number of feasible solutions to this problem by altering engineering design techniques to mitigate these diseases.

Diana R. Gergel is currently pursuing a master’s in materials Science and Engineering at Boston University and was a 2012 Graduate Summer Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Previously, she earned an M.A. in environmental history from the University of California, Berkeley. Her current research interests include hydrological changes due to construction of dams in the wetland areas of Southwest Ethiopia and the intersections between tropical health and environmental engineering.