The societal value of geoscience information in less developed countries: the coastal zone of eastern Africa. (WC/98/060).


This report identifies, through consultation with a range of coastal scientists and coastal management practitioners, those coastal management issues to which geoscience knowledge and understanding have relevance. It assesses the importance of these issues, reviews the state of existing knowledge and proposes research and applications agendas with a view to delivering societal benefit, both through the development of appropriate national policies for sustainable development in coastal areas and through the implementation of effective management practice at national to community-based levels. The study focuses on the coastal areas of Eastern Africa, in particular, Tanzania.

A prime role for the geoscientist is to provide strategic knowledge of the geological and hydrogeological resources of the coastal zone and the processes which affect them; also to deliver an understanding of the dependencies of the various ecosystems on those resources and, in some cases, vice versa. The greatest societal benefit deriving from this knowledge will accrue from its application where demand on the resources is greatest - in most instances this means in and around urban areas.

The surveying and management of groundwater resources is probably where geoscience can bring the most significant benefit, with the potential to deliver value to the coastal community, rural and urban, even over the short term. Over the longer term, the application of geoscience to the problems of the siltation and pollution of coastal areas from land-based sources is likely to lead to societal benefit, though this may be difficult to quantify because of the complexity of the resources involved. Although coastal erosion is perceived by coastal managers to be an important issue, and one for which geoscience is relevant, benefits from geoscience research are likely to be restricted to site-specific developers, over the short term at least.

The report highlights a need to raise the level and breadth of scientific awareness in coastal policy-making and management, including knowledge of the geological resource inventories and the processes that affect or control them - both crucial components of environmental assessment for sustainable development in the coastal zone. The delivery to coastal management, both at the public institutional and the community levels, of relevant and accessible information on the geoscience-related resources, their values and the processes acting on them should be a key input to the integrated management of the coastal zone.

This report is available to download in full colour (1962 kb) and black and white (1415 kb).


The societal value of geoscience information in less developed countries: the coastal zone of eastern Africa. (WC/98/060).

Published 1 January 1998