Geoscientist details water resources partnership in Malawi

Tim Larson, a retired geoscientist from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), brought his four decades of experience in locating groundwater in Illinois to connect people in four African villages to fresh water. Although Larson originally began traveling to Africa through church mission trips, he eventually developed relationships with colleagues at Chancellor College in Zomba, Malawi, and obtained funding from Geoscientists without Borders for a two-year project in Malawi, where nearly 4 million people lack access to clean water, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In 2018, Larson completed the project to help build sustainable water wells in four remote villages in Malawi, and fund three graduate students in the process. A research paper documenting this project has been accepted into a special edition on Humanitarian Geosciences in the journal GEOPHYSICS, which will be available in print in January 2022.

“In the paper, we talk about our approach of combining natural and social science tools to optimize the location of new water wells,” said Larson. “Typically humanitarian projects use either natural science or social science tools, but not both, which usually is not successful long-term. With our combined approach we had a high initial success rate -- all four wells produced good water-- and all wells were still operating a year later.”

Read more about this water resources partnership