In 2015 we held an informal discussion on 'Geology and International Development - What is best practice?', with participants sharing their ideas on how to make such work effective, sustainable and safe.
Some of the themes and ideas…
Prepare Effectively Before Travelling
– Don’t go unless you have expertise to provide that is not available locally or you will build local capacity.
– Listen to stakeholders early enough (before you write the plan and budget), build agreement on realistic goals and outputs.
– Invest time in relationships.
– Research, so that you understand culture and pre-existing social structures to reach the target audience.
– Consider how to move from humanitarian response to sustainable development throughout the project.
– People orientated goal setting – put compassion at the heart of what you do!
Engage all Stakeholders
– Take the time needed to engage the full spectrum of stakeholders openly (e.g., survey, universities, industry and local community representatives).
– Link with local universities and integrate them into your budget. Couple teaching with the development project.
– At all times – RESPECT, for people, for their knowledge about the environment. Just because information is not in the published literature does not mean the knowledge doesn’t exist in other ways and forms.
– Avoid ‘rich-visitor treatment’ and try to meet real local people and stakeholders.
– Share your results locally and translate them.
– Communicate on a level that the audience understands.
– Produce clear, appropriate maps or figures – and share them!!
– Ensure the results and implications of the work are clearly addressed.