Monday, 1 October 2012

A New Home For The GfGD Blog


Since February 2011 we have been posting on this blogspot site. We have collated over 243 posts on topics from disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation in the developing world, and sustainable mining. We regularly get over 4500 pageviews a month, and since we started have had more than 58,000 pageviews. Over the past 30 days we have had our highest ever number of pageviews!

Today the GfGD blog enters an exciting new phase. We have been invited to join a network of blogs hosted by the European Geosciences Union (EGU), and are delighted to accept and become part of this network.

The EGU is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the geosciences - for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. This is a vision that we at Geology for Global Development both applaud and strongly align ourselves with. From reducing the risk of natural disasters, improving the sustainable exploitation of natural resources and developing better environmental conservation - geoscience offers much to support a better and fairer world. 

This blogspot site will be staying live, and used as a resource archive. However, from today, all new posts will at our new home - http://blogs.egu.eu/gfgd/ - please visit the new site, add it to your favourites, RSS feed etc. 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday Photo (50) - Britain's Geological Wonders - Arran

ARRAN, UNITED KINGDOM - DRUMADOON SILL
Drumadoon Sill, found on the Island of Arran in Scotland, is a spectacular example of this type of igneous feature, formed when molten rock forces its way in between two layers of rock below the ground.
(c) Geology for Global Development 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Lessons from China (2) - Active Landslide Video

Below is a video of an active landslide in the Gansu Province of China, observed on the 13th September 2012. This slope face had reportedly been falling apart since the previous afternoon, and had resulted in the evacuation of a number of houses. At the base of the slope is a small river, and there was concern that the material could block the river and result in flooding.

You can see a number of features within the video, including large boulders bouncing and a constant (dry) flow of material.


Monday, 24 September 2012

Lessons from China (1) - Introduction

As highlighted on the GfGD blog last week, I have recently returned from the First International Symposium on New Techniques for Geohazards Research and Management in the Gansu Province of China. This conference encompassed two days of presentation relating to landslides, debris flows and management strategies followed by four days in the field, travelling 1200km by road to visit sites of major landslide activity.

The beauty and magnitude of the landscapes there was enormous, ranging from magnificent loess terraces, to sharp limestone mountains and vast sediment-laden rivers. It was, however, the raw vulnerability of communities that impacted me most - The desperate need for improved science and engineering, but an even greater need for better communication, decision making, education and understanding of how to build resilience. 

Posts about various aspects of this trip, case studies and challenges, will come in the near future. In the meantime, here are a few photos taken from the trip. Look out on Wednesday for a video of the active landslide in the final picture below.

Landslide in loess terrain (Heifangtai, Gansu Province, China)
(c) Geology for Global Development, 2012

Construction of a large debris flow channel to reduce the risk to the community at the bottom of the valley. A deadly flow killed over 1500 people in 2010.
(Zhouqu, Gansu Province, China)

(c) Geology for Global Development, 2012

An active complex landslide - with failure occurring in both the loess material and bedrock
(Gansu Province, China)

(c) Geology for Global Development, 2012

Friday, 21 September 2012

Friday Photo (49) - Britain's Geological Wonders - Guernsey Granite

GUERNSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - GRANITE COASTLINE
The predominantly granitic geology of Guernsey has allowed quarrying for building stone, and formed some beautiful coastlines that draw many tourists to the Channel Islands. 
(c) Geology for Global Development 2012

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Establishing New University Groups

GfGD currently has University Groups established in Cambridge, Leicester, Leeds and at UCL. In the new academic term we expect to launch groups in Oxford, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Plymouth - and we are currently in conversations with a number of other places.

Over the summer we've put together some resources to help students establish new GfGD University Groups. This set of guidelines will help students to understand how to establish a University Group or affiliate their existing student geology society with GfGD. 

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bzuh3zrCojYWNHFHOENjbEgtVWc

We've also put together a list of possible activities for University Groups, and activities that we are doing on a national basis.

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bzuh3zrCojYWX3VLS1ZjUWtjZ0E

If you're a student, and interested in helping to set up a group then have a look at these and get in contact If you're an academic, why not suggest to students at your institution that they explore the possibility of setting up a group.

Monday, 17 September 2012

China: New Techniques for Geohazards Research and Management

Last week I was in China at the First International Symposium on New Techniques for Geohazards Research and Management in Gansu Province, China. This conference combined a series of talks about geohazards (particularly focusing on slope instabilities and debris flows) and hazard management strategies with a series of field visits around the Gansu Province in China. One of these visits includes to Zhouqu, where a significant landslide in 2010 killed more than a thousand people. 

Whilst mainly presenting information about my PhD research, I also took the opportunity to share some of the principles and work of GfGD. Any management of geohazards must take a holistic approach, understanding the importance of both engineered solutions, and also reducing community vulnerability. GfGD is working to champion a greater understanding and practice of the latter within the geoscience community. Next week we will post a report of the conference, together with a number of photos and case studies. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Friday Photo (48) - Britain's Geological Wonders - Chevin Geology Trail

CHEVIN FOREST, WEST YORKSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM - GEOLOGY TRAIL
The Chevin Forest Park Geology Trail has a leaflet outlining several parts of the local geology, and you can even download audio files outlining the features you are looking at. A beautiful and interesting afternoon near the historic market town of Otley, West Yorkshire.
(c) Geology for Global Development 2012

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Cabinet Reshuffle: Change at DFID

As mentioned on GfGD's Facebook page - last week David Cameron reshuffled his Government, and made some changes to the Department for International Development (DFID).

Andrew Mitchell who has served as Secretary of State since 2010, and Shadow Secretary of State since 2005 moved to another brief within the Cabinet. He was replaced by Justine Greening. Lower down the ministerial ranks, Stephen O'Brien (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for International Development) was also replaced by Lib-Dem MP Lynne Featherstone. Alan Duncan retains his position as Minister of State. 

Many people will have their own opinions about the successes and failures of the past two and a half years of Coalition Government, and in particular how DFID has progressed. You can read a variety of posts and opinions on the Guardian (see Jonathan Glennie, Liz Ford and Sol Oyuela for example). The general feeling from tweets, articles and blog comments however seems to be that Andrew Mitchell can leave DFID with his head held high. After five years as Shadow Secretary of State, he was described as being one of the 'best-prepared' secretary of states with genuine 'commitment to the sector.' 

Here a few of my own thoughts. In my opinion, and I would certainly welcome other's thoughts and comments Mitchell has been one of the higher profile Secretary of States in recent times, bringing some positive leadership and direction to this department, that showed that a genuine belief in the importance of development. In the difficult economic climate, there has been little (vocal) public support for ringfencing DFID's budget. Despite this, Mitchell has worked solidly to defend and promote the importance of supporting the world's poorest communities which must be commended. It is regretful and disappointing that he didn't oversee the promised legislating of 0.7% of GDP to international development. I also have concerns that the focus on value for money, which is not unwelcome, could bring about a reluctance to support projects bringing long-term results. Vaccines are much easier than hygiene education for example. It should also be noted that Stephen O'Brien was held in high regard by a number within the development community. 

Justine Greening and her ministerial team, therefore have a big responsibility to build on this work, and have a lot in their various in-trays. Greening must continue to fight to win the argument over the 0.7% of GDP, standing up to some fellow Conservative MPs who are sceptical to say the least. In the event of pressure from the Treasury to back down on this pledge, Greening must remember the promise of her predecessor not to balance the books on the backs of the world's poorest. Greening should also re-examine the 'value for money' approach taken by Mitchell - to ensure that DFID are not just taking a short term approach to development, in order to show rapid results. Real value for money comes from investing in long-term change, prevention rather than cure. Alongside these massive tasks, DFID will be taking a leading role in the development of post Millennium Development Goal targets, must continue to implement the HERR recommendations and many other tasks.

Overall, we should be proud of the fact that the UK has an overseas development department, and the work that we do to fight poverty and improve the lives of communities around the world. Both Andrew Mitchell and Justine Greening are privileged to have led and to lead such an important department.  

Monday, 10 September 2012

Reminder: GfGD National Committee Positions


REMINDER - THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS FOR ALL POSITIONS ON THE GfGD NATIONAL COMMITTEE IS FRIDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER 2012.

GfGD would like to establish our first GfGD National Committee - a group of students and recent graduates ready to volunteer some of their time to help manage a specific area of GfGDs work and contribute to the wider leadership and development of GfGD. (Please note, for logistical reasons, and to help us meet our initial objectives, these positions are currently only open to those residing in the UK)

Positions include: Secretary, Communications Officer, Deputy Communications Officer, University Group Officer, Fundraising Officer, Placements Officer, Resources and Publications Officer, Advocacy Development Officer, Education and Careers Officer

Details of all these positions can be found on our website at
 http://www.gfgd.org/get-involved. If you are a student or fairly recent graduate, and interested in applying for one of these positions, download the application guidelines and application form from this same page. 

A completed application form, together with your CV should be returned to (joel[at]gfgd.org) by the end of
 21st September 2012.

If you are reliable, enjoy working as part of a team, and passionate about seeing good geoscience supporting and informing development then we would love to have your application to join us on this next, and exciting, stage of our journey. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Friday Photo (47) - Britain's Geological Wonders - Malham Cove

MALHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - LIMESTONE PAVEMENT
We are Geology for 'Global' Development - and so although the focus of our work is the developing world, we thought we'd use a few Friday Photos to profile some of the beautiful geology we have in the UK. Our first example is this limestone pavement and cliff at Malham, in the Yorkshire Dales. Careful conservation of such sites can be used to improve geoscience education and generate income for local economies.
(c) Geology for Global Development 2012

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Dan Sharpe: The Importance of Quaternary Mapping in Global Development

After a busy summer of various field projects, Dan Sharpe is back and starts this terms blog posts by looking at the importance of Quaternary mapping... 

Quaternary mapping is a technique not taught on many undergraduate geoscience courses, however it is one that is vital in the field of global development. Mapping Quaternary deposits can tell us whether an area of ground is unstable, problematic (in terms of future development) or a good aquifer and thus is crucial in construction and planning, along with natural hazard protection and water resource management.

Quaternary is the name given to the final epochs of the Cenozoic era; the Pleistocene, the Holocene and the slightly more controversial current Anthropocene (an informal term for the period of human interference on our planet). In other words, roughly the past 2.5-2.6 million years (a tiny fraction of the 4.54 billion years the Earth has existed). Mapping these deposits show the levels of interference of surface processes such as glaciation, desertification, floods and even surface geochemistry and can be a crucial component in understanding a hazard or resource.

Natural Hazards

The type of surface deposit can be a very important control on the intensity of a natural hazard. In particular, the porosity of a soil can seriously affect the flood risk in an area, and mapping this can highlight areas under threat. In developing nations, flooding proves a huge setback in physical development and loss of lives - particularly in southern Asia with the presence of the El Nino and frequent typhoons. Understanding and mapping areas at risk can not only reduce the loss of life during periods of flooding but also mitigate the damage to infrastructure, meaning that there is less need to repair but focus can instead be placed on development.

Marco Dormino/ UNDP
Indeed soils and more specifically soil porosity and consolidation play an important role in other hazards too. The Haiti earthquake of 2010 killed over 300,000 people. One of the major problems in the area was that many of the poorly constructed homes were built on unconsolidated land that liquified during shaking (for details see this information sheet). Liquefaction occurs in almost every earthquake on some scale but in this example an area large enough to cause serious harm was affected, and thus large scale failure of buildings and roads occurred. Understanding the ground beneath which construction is taking place is therefore crucial in aiding the development of nations susceptible to natural hazards.


Water Resources

Sub-surface characteristics can be crucial in the trapping or release of water, particularly precipitation. Mapping quaternary deposits will determine levels of vegetation and type of ground. Levels of surface run-off or infiltration can be mapped as a result. Potential traps may be identified and provide important information on where water will hold underground and where a resource can be exploited. This is an increasingly vital skill in developing nations, particularly Africa. The World Bank Institute (WBI) released a statement in 1999 saying:

“... over the past few decades, use of water has increased, and in many places water availability is falling to crisis levels. More than eighty countries, with forty percent of the world’s population, are already facing water shortages.”

This is a trend that has not stopped and thus it is crucial that geoscience courses include techniques to find water resources, and more generally gaining a greater understanding of near-surface deposits from recent geological history. 

Quaternary mapping is not yet fully integrated into many courses at universities, but is an increasingly important technique when using the earth sciences to aid in global development.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Reminder: GfGD 'Placements' Blog

Disaster Planning in the Solomon Islands
(Photo Courtesy of David Cavell/Greg Smith)
Don't forget to check out the fantastic posts on our placements blog written by Laura Westoby and David Cavell/Greg Smith from the University of Leicester. 

This summer they've been in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands respectively, undertaking work that will contribute to their undergraduate research project. They've also been learning a lot about what it's like to undertake geoscience work in developing countries.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday Photo (46) - Disaster Planning in the Solomon Islands

EVACUATION PLANS - SOLOMON ISLANDS
A list of evacuation sites along with maps detailing hazardous areas, on a notice board in Lemboni, Solomon Islands. We were told this is the only one of its type in the area.
Photo Courtesy of Greg Smith/David Cavell (University of Leicester), August 2012

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Blog Watch

What does a toilet, higher education and
migration have in common?
(Source: Wiki)
A few blog posts have caught my attention in recent days. Each of the three blogs listed below talks about something over than geoscience (sanitation and access to toilets, higher education in war-torn Afghanistan, and migration) however they are all linked to situations where geoscientists may be involved. The need for geoscientists to be able to communicate with multiple interested parties, from different backgrounds, is something we have championed on this blog and through the GfGD network. Geoscience can't improve the world in it's own bubble - but alongside health experts, education experts and law experts (amongst many others). Hopefully these few articles will give you a taste of the much broader context of geoscience:

The need for decent sanitation facilities across the world is staggering. An estimated 2.5billion people lack access to a basic toilet. In between addressing malaria, TB and other killer diseases, Bill Gates has been trying to re-invent the toilet - you can read more on the Tearfund 'Just Policy' blog.

This blog, on the Science magazine page, looks at the role and future of higher education in Afghanistan. 

An analysis of the legality of crossing international borders when faced with a natural catastrophe. This article was posted last week on the Guardian 'Poverty Matters' Blog.

Monday, 27 August 2012

GfGD National Committee

At the end of our first academic year of existence, we've reached an exciting place... but we have much more we would like to achieve. 

We'd like to develop more University Groups, more placement opportunities, more geoscience resources to support NGOs overseas, and more training opportunities for young geoscientists. As our vision statement says, we would like to encourage and support more young geoscientists in the growth of appropriate skills and knowledge in order that they can make a positive, effective, and greater contribution to international development throughout their careers. We want to make sure geoscientists are playing their full role in fighting poverty, and improving the lives of some of the world's poorest people. 

In order to do this, we would like to establish our first GfGD National Committee - a group of students and recent graduates ready to volunteer some of their time to help manage a specific area of GfGDs work and contribute to the wider leadership and development of GfGD. (Please note, for logistical reasons, and to help us meet our initial objectives, these positions are currently only open to those residing in the UK).   

We are advertising a number of positions, details of which can be found on our website at http://www.gfgd.org/get-involved. If you are a student or fairly recent graduate, and interested in applying for one of these positions, download the application guidelines and application form from this same page. 

A completed application form, together with your CV should be returned to (joel[at]gfgd.org) by the end of 21st September 2012.

If you are reliable, enjoy working as part of a team, and passionate about seeing good geoscience supporting and informing development then we would love to have your application to join us on this next, and exciting, stage of our journey. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday Photo (45) - Lahar Dam (Mt. Merapi)

MT. MERAPI, INDONESIA - LAHAR DAM
A new type of dam installed on the flanks of Mt. Merapi
that will hopefully minimise the risk of damage further downstream.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Westoby - University of Leicester

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

CAFOD/GfGD Placement - Successful Candidate

Congratulations to Ellie Murtagh, who has recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Geology and Physical Geography. Ellie was the successful applicant for the placement we have organised with the international NGO CAFOD.

Over a week in September she will be working with their Humanitarian Department, writing a briefing note on catchment management, and helping to run a workshop on building community and organisational resilience. This will give her a fantastic chance to network with regional managers from around the world.

On hearing the news Ellie said "I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity! I would like to learn more about the important role geoscience plays in improving the lives of others around the world. I hope this will give me a good insight into international development and show me how to gain a career in this field."

Ellie will be writing about her experiences in the development sector for the GfGD Blog after completing her placement, so do look out for her report. We're hoping to advertise another placement with CAFOD over Easter 2013, and are currently looking for other organisations to partner with. For details of placements as and when they are advertised, please do like our facebook page or sign up for newsletters and information on our website.

Monday, 20 August 2012

GfGD Summer Highlights

The Olympics are over and it's been a great summer for the UK and many other nations around the world. It's also been a great summer for GfGD.... here are our highlights! 

Earlier this month the Geological Society published an article we wrote about our work and future plans. This has led to a range of communications and expressions of interest which will hopefully lead to further University Groups being established, as well as other things. 

We have been following three students working in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands - doing fantastic work, and learning a lot of important skills. The impact that these placements will have on these three students will be long-lasting, and I'm sure will benefit their future work in many ways. We want to see these opportunities multiplied and expanded to students across the UK and beyond.

On the GfGD Blog we had over 5000 pageviews in July, our highest yet. We have also recently had an invitation to link our blog to the European Geosciences Union's Blog Network, a fantastic opportunity that will raise the profile of our work. Keep an eye out for further details.

We've finalised a placement opportunity for one successful candidate, in the Humanitarian Department of the NGO CAFOD. This experience will give them an important insight into the development sector, and will hopefully lead to placements for other students in the future. We'll be blogging about this more on Wednesday.

Finally, a year after our launch we're now ready to form a National Committee - offering students or recent graduates an opportunity to lead a specific area of our national programme. We will soon be advertising the following roles:
- Secretary
- Communications Officer
- Deputy Communications Officer
- University Group Officer
- Fundraising Officer
- Placements Officer
- Resources and Publications Officer
- Advocacy Development Officer
- Education and Careers Officer
Further details will be published very soon about each of these roles, and how to apply. These are fantastic opportunities to support the work of GfGD and gain important leadership experience. If you have a passion for development and seeing geoscience students equipped to play their full role in fighting poverty through good geoscience, and are a team-player, then we'd love to hear from you when applications open.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Summer Break

We'll be taking a short break from posting over the next week - but if you're keen to have your GfGD Blog fix - have a look at some of our most popular posts from the archive:
Last month we had a record 5000+ pageviews on the blog, our highest ever monthly total. Have a look at our archive, and see what all the fuss is! 

We'll be back with regular and new posts again on Monday 20th August 2012, including details of the successful candidate for the GfGD/CAFOD Placement.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Geological Society of London - Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme

The Geological Society of London have recently advertised a fantastic opportunity for Fellows to spend time shadowing an MP or Peer. This will give them both parties a great opportunity to see how geoscience can be better integrated into policy.

The Geological Society writes on their website...
"Fellows will be able to improve their understanding of the working lives of politicians, and how they can make best use of their knowledge and skills to inform effective policy-making. MPs will in turn learn about the variety of activities undertaken by scientists, and how they can draw on the expertise and experience of our community. Each participating Fellow will spend two or three days shadowing an MP or peer in Parliament, with the possibility of further contact at the convenience of both parties. This might include a visit to the MP’s constituency, or to the Fellow’s place of work." 
Full details can be found on the Geological Society's website!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Friday Photo (44) - Lahars on Mt. Merapi

MT. MERAPI, INDONESIA - LAHARS IN RIVER CHANNELS
On the south-east flank of Mt. Merapi, Indonesia, many river channels suffer from lahars in the rainy season and so the government has been building barriers to try and control them.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Westoby - University of Leicester

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Engaging with Parliament

A few weeks ago I was reading about the worsening situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unrest and conflict in this country has resulted in the death, abuse and rape of many innocent civilians. I decided to send an e-mail to my MP, Vince Cable, urging him to encourage the government to ensure they take all necessary steps to secure a long-lasting, sustainable peace for the people of that huge nation, and that humanitarian support is ready in the event that the situation worsens in the east of the country.

Within a week of sending the e-mail, I had a letter back from Dr Cable saying that he'd written to both the International Development Secretary and Foreign Secretary with the concerns I was expressing. After a further week I had a letter back from the Department for International Development. In the UK, we have significant opportunities we have to engage with those who make and shape important decisions, through our constituent MPs, and others. 

Whether it's writing a letter to your MP, sending them an e-mail, or arranging to meet with them to discuss an issue at one of their surgeries - we should all make the most of these opportunities to let our views be heard, to express our opinions (be they ones of agreement or disagreement), and to ask questions. It's very easy to be sceptical about politics, about what influence we have with these communications - but they are opportunities that many people across the world would love to have. I also sincerely believe that they are opportunities that have and can genuinely influence mindsets, votes and ultimately policy.

It's not just our local MPs we can engage with, you can also contact Government Ministers and Departments, All-Party Parliamentary Groups, MEPs and Devolved Administrations (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). You can find most relevant e-mails, and contact details on the internet using a search engine such as Google or this site is also very helpful!

Monday, 30 July 2012

University Projects/Overseas Placements

Over the summer of 2012, a number of students will be travelling overseas to undertake placements and carry out fieldwork as part of their university degree. GfGD is following three of these students, all from the University of Leicester. They will be carrying out work in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, and have kindly agreed to give us their stories, photographs and the lessons they learn from their work.

Details of these placements are outlined below:



Name: Greg Smith
Destination: Solomon Islands
Project: Hazard Assessment (Volcanic Eruptions/Tsunamis)



Name: David Cavell
Destination: Solomon Islands
Project: Hazard Assessment (Volcanic Eruptions/Tsunamis)






Name: Laura Westoby
Destination: Indonesia
Project: Hazard Assesment and Impacts (Volcanic Eruptions)








Through following these placements, GfGD will:
  • Help these students to disseminate and share the knowledge that they develop through the opportunities they have. 
  • Share with the wider geoscience community an understanding of how good geoscience knowledge can better contribute to international development.
  • Consider what other skills are required by geologists in order to undertake effective development
  • Promote the positive international outcomes of students/recent graduates undertaking such placements, and expanding their experience base. 

You can find out more about the projects these students will be undertaking on the placements page of our website. We will be posting regular updates and photos from the students on the special placements blog section of our website.

Please note... all of these placements have been organised and are supervised by staff at the University of Leicester, not Geology for Global Development. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Friday Photo (43) - Latrine

TANZANIA: LATRINE
This newly constructed latrine at a school in Tanzania means that school children can  use a safe, clean sanitary facility - and waste can be prevented from entering drinking water.
(c) Geology for Global Development 2012

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Training Opportunity: Groundwater Monitoring and Drilling Supervision


Hydrogeologists Without Borders, in collaboration with REDR and Cranfield University, are running a course on groundwater monitoring and drilling supervision on the weekend of the 14th-16th September. This weekend aims to develop knowledge of groundwater, drilling supervision and groundwater monitoring, and is mainly intended for water engineers and managers. The cost for this three day course is £150 (including breakfast and lunch, accommodation not included).

By the end of the weekend, participants should have an understanding of:
  • Groundwater movement and storage within different rock environments 
  • How to carry out a groundwater monitoring programme
  • The process of borehole siting and choosing an appropriate drilling technology
  • How to supervise drilling contractors
  • Pumping test supervision and how to collect all the relevant information needed to analyse the test
  • How to access free professional advice when working with groundwater related projects


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Top Travel Resources

To complement our popular series of 'Top Travel Tips' here are a number of 'Top Travel Resources' - online sites with helpful information to better prepare and plan your fieldwork, placements or travel.

The FCO website provide detailed advice about every country, including details of the security situation, relevant natural hazards, local customs and laws (including issues such as alcohol, behaviour with the opposite/same sex), crime precautions and much more. It is also highly recommended that you register with their LOCATE service, ensuring that the local embassy know you are in the country and have your contact details in the event of an emergency evacuation being required. The FCO also have advice relating to various health issues.

Vaccination and malaria advice for each country, provided by the NHS Scotland. Advice on disease prevention and staying healthy whilst overseas.

FEMA (a US Govt Agency) have advice for what to do before, during and after a number of natural disasters. Often when travelling you will be exposed to hazards that you are not normally exposed to in your home country, and it's helpful to have an idea of what to do should these hazards materialise. Although these are designed for life in the USA, there are still helpful and relevant tips.

A lot of irritating pop-ups, but it gives simple phrases in a wide variety of languages! Once you know the local language, you can probably find a more specific and detailed site.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Landslide Blog

Landslides have been in the news a lot recently, including a number of reports about landsliding in the UK and many articles about landslides across the world. For example, the BBC News recently covered the fatal landslide in Dorset, UK, reported a rise in landslides in South Asia, a mudslide in Austria, and discussed flooding and landslides in Japan




As highlighted previously on this blog, Dave Petley's Landslide Blog, hosted by the AGU is a fantastic place to get up-to-date information, photographs and links to media reports about the latest landslide occurrences. It's well worth putting in your favourites tab and keeping an eye on!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Friday Photo (42) - Pump Repair

TANZANIA - PUMP REPAIR
Geologists developing their engineering skills - the (attempted) repair of a shallow well pump in the Kagera Region of Tanzania
(c) Geology for Global Development, 2012


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

University Project on Mt Merapi, Indonesia – Laura Westoby

Mount Merapi
Laura Westoby, aged 21, and currently studying for an MGeol degree at the University of Leicester will soon begin a four week placement in Indonesia. GfGD will be following and promoting her work over the next month! Laura writes...

"I will be travelling to Indonesia to undertake a placement with Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Java. As part of my MGeol degree at Leicester I have to complete a report in my 4th year. I have decided to focus this report on Mt Merapi and how it affects the local community. During my visit I hope to meet members of the community who have learnt to live with the danger of Mt Merapi and investigate processes that occur in the community before, during and after an eruption. I also hope to see how research is conducted at the University and how this information is relayed to the community. When I return to Leicester I will integrate my visit with a GIS project and a literature review to create my report.

This is a fantastic opportunity that will hopefully help me develop confidence when visiting new places, meeting new people and travelling alone. It will also introduce me to a side of geology that really interests me – the social aspect and one that hasn't cropped up very often throughout my degree. I will hopefully have the chance to learn some new skills whilst out there, such as how they monitor the volcano and field mapping, and also integrate myself with the local culture – I will be staying for a month!

Hopefully after my visit a connection with Gadjah Mada University will be established allowing more exchanges to take place in the future, both from the UK and also from Indonesia. With an exchange scheme established it will hopefully be easier for students to find funding in advance of a visit."

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Top Travel Tips (5) - Katy Hebditch

Katy Hebditch travelled to Liberia on a short contract job, carrying out socio-economic baseline surveys for a large mining project last September:

Travelling to a new country is exciting, and nerve-wracking, especially when you don't know what to expect. Here's my few top tips/things to think about...

1) Attire - Rainy season in the tropics = serious rain + hot + humid. Sometimes an umbrella is more useful than a hot sweaty jacket! Decent, comfy, waterproof walking boots and waterproof liners for bags were incredibly useful. 

2) Don't get lost - GPS & maps (& Google Earth) are VERY useful. Plan where you're going - I got quite lost in the jungle several times, and mobile phones don't have reception when it rains. Being able to map is also very useful, not originally in my job description, I ended up mapping all of our surveys and where people visited!

3) Do your research - It's good to have an idea about the history of the country you're visiting - recent wars, troubles, politics, customs etc, and this will help you to be sensitive and avoid offending people. Know someone who's been there? Get in touch with them for advice!

4) Be sensible - Look after your valuables - don't flash the cash etc. Avoid corruption & bribery. standard stuff. 

5) Medical stuff - It goes without saying, get the right vaccinations, take malaria prophylaxis, and take medicines you may need, ideally your own first aid kit for the field. You'll be surprised what things you may react to - missionary ants can cause severe allergic reactions, adjusting to a new diet and being exposed to different bugs can cause havoc. If you get the chance to do any first aid training, take it. My university funded me doing an intensive expedition first aid course - great peace of mind.  

Most of all, relax, have fun and enjoy experiencing the new culture!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

CAFOD/GfGD Placement - One Week Left To Apply!


There's just one week left to apply for this fantastic opportunity - all you need is a CV and a 250-word statement outlining why you would like this opportunity, and which weeks in September you are available!
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GfGD are delighted to announce a fantastic opportunity to spend one week this September in the Humanitarian Department of the international NGO CAFOD, based in London (download a placement information sheet here). In the space of a week you won’t have time to undertake a specific project or be applying lots of the geology you have learnt – but you will get a highly valuable opportunity to see how disaster risk reduction and emergency response operate within a large NGO and get a preliminary insight into the development sector. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to ask questions, and the opportunity to meet and talk about your experiences with GfGD’s Director.

This opportunity is open to all geoscience students in the UK who are currently coming to the end or have just finished the third or fourth year of their undergraduate course. We are currently not able to offer any funding to cover travel, food or living expenses during the week, and so advise all those applying that they will have to be able to cover these themselves. If you have family or friends in London that you can stay with for a week, this would be helpful. Individuals may be able to apply to their universities for financial support.

If you are interested in this placement, please send Joel Gill, GfGD Director (joel[at]gfgd[dot]org) a copy of your CV and a short personal statement (max. 250 words) outlining why you would like this opportunity and which weeks in September you are available. These will be reviewed and the successful candidate informed. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS – MIDDAY, 23rd JULY 2012.

The successful candidate will be asked to (i) sign a Memorandum of Understanding, confirming that they will behave in a professional and appropriate manner, represent GfGD well and follow any guidelines set out by CAFOD and (ii) write a report for Geology for Global Development describing your work, what you learnt and how it benefited you.

If this placement is a success, we will hopefully have a second opportunity in Easter 2013 for those, who by that stage, will be in the third/fourth year of their undergraduate course.

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CAFOD is the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, working with partners in more than 40 countries across the world to bring hope, compassion and solidarity to communities that are poor, standing side-by-side with them to end poverty and injustice. CAFOD work with people of all faiths and none. Find out more - http://www.cafod.org.uk/.