Category Archives: CARA

Central American Water Resource Management Network (CARA)

CARA, founded in 1999, is a water resources training network funded primarily by CIDA (Canada‘s equivalent to USAID), the Canadian International Development Agency.  It is run by the Universities of Calgary and Waterloo, with the former the lead university. David Bethune is the coordinator. CARA is a water resource training network focusing on building local capacity to improve the management and protection of Central American water resources.  

The following excerpts are taken from a Water Canada’s September/October 2012 article,  “Making It Local.  The CARA program empowers students in Central america to manage groundwater resources in their own backyards.” by Kerry Freek and Brendan Mulligan.

Eighty-percent of Central America’s water supply comes from groundwater, and that includes some huge urban water supplies, says University of Calgary’s David Bethune. “With population growth, deforestation, and poverty, the stress on watersheds in central america is huge,” he says. “the natural water balance is being altered, and a reduced natural recharge is affecting the groundwater supply.”  For a region that relies so heavily upon threatened groundwater supplies, central america, like many developing countries, desperately lacks qualified individuals to make decisions about water use and management … With funding from Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Farvolden initiated a program to train future hydrogeologists at the University of Costa Rica.  In 1995, Bethune and Ryan travelled south to help begin the first project. In the first cycle, they had students from Colombia to Guatemala.  Soon, there was a strong consensus that other countries would like to have similar programs.  They continued the program in Guatemala, Nicaragua and, later, El Salvador, Honduras, and Bolivia. As the current project director for the Central American water resource management network (CARA), Bethune now manages the Canadian International development agency (CIDA) funded program that supports six master of science programs in Central America … Within a short period of time, the CARA programs are becoming self-sustaining.  That, says Bethune, is the key. “The intention is independence from Canadian support. the people managing and developing water supplies are from their own country.”  The program in Nicaragua has been particularly successful.  CIDA has rewarded the initiative with additional funding for a project titled community water management in Nicaragua and Central America, which Ryan is directing.  The two are also involved in Hydrogeologists Without Borders (HWB), an organization formed to provide further assistance to CARA students and other similar programs and NGOs.  HWB is currently funding five Central American master’s students in the field of hydrogeology in their own regions.