Geology for Global Development

Thinking Development: An Academic Partnership Between London and Haiti.

The Sisters of St Joseph provided education for a large number of young girls in Haiti, but their school was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. It is vital that it is rebuilt. The sisters have many years of teaching experience, but no experience in construction. At University College London (UCL) there is plenty of expertise in engineering, hazards and project management, but no source of funding. Linda O’Halloran established Thinking Development, a partnership between academics at UCL and this school in Haiti, soon after the earthquake.

Thinking Development is aiming to replace the school with a permanent structure that is built to withstand future natural disasters. This is important not only because of the potential for tragedy if a school collapses, but because the building could provide a large community space for refuge immediately following a disaster.

The project has taken care to listen to the concerns of the sisters and their children. One student said the thing she wishes for most is a roof that can stop the heat. Would academics working in London have been so aware of the discomfort children must feel working in hot class rooms all day, without visiting Haiti to meet the people involved?

Thinking Development have been documenting their progress using video diaries, as it is more accessible to other development practitioners than long, wordy reports.

We believe this is an example of a well-managed development project that efficiently and effectively integrates academic skills.


You can hear more about Thinking Development in these videos

You can donate to the project here.

Rosalie was the Himalayas Programme Officer for Geology for Global Development and writer for the GfGD blog. She is a geochemist and a postdoc at the University of Oxford.