At the end of each GfGD placement we ask the student completing that placement to think about his/her experiences and write a short report (available to download here). In April 2013, Sam Marshall spent a week working with disaster risk reduction advisor Dr Kate Crowley (pictured with Sam Marshall) at the international NGO CAFOD. Today we share Sam’s report – outlining what he got up to during the week and some key things he learnt.
Name: Sam Marshall
University: University of Southampton
Year of Study (when undertaking placement): 3
Placement Title: Disaster Risk Reduction, CAFOD
Placement Dates: 15th-19th April
Why did you apply for this placement?
I applied for the placement as I wanted to better understand the role geologists can play in development globally, and the work Geology for Global Development is doing in the sector immediately caught my attention. I undertook the placement for a week in April, shadowing Dr Kate Crowley, CAFOD’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Advisor.
Outline what you did during the placement (activities, meetings, things you contributed to):
When I first arrived I met some of the other people in the department, and went over the plan for the week with Kate. She assured me the variation in her job meant more would certainly be added to the schedule during the week, which certainly proved true. I began work on a task profiling the risk of natural hazards in some of the countries that CAFOD operates in. In the afternoon I got the opportunity to meet with a few of CAFOD’s Emergency Response Coordinators, and understand what their role entails and how they got to their position.
On the Tuesday morning I sat in on a Humanitarian Futures Programme meeting hosted by CAFOD about planning an upcoming workshop about integrating science and development to support resilience. The meeting looked to organize the format of the event, decide on invitees, and establish the goals that they hoped to accomplish in the workshop. In the afternoon I got the opportunity to see how DRR policies are applied to CAFOD projects when I sat in on CAFOD’s DRR internal working group meeting, in which updates on current and proposed DRR policies were discussed.
On the Wednesday I attended the CAFOD humanitarian working group meeting, and continued my risk-profiling task. In the afternoon I travelled to Brighton with Kate, where she had been asked to be a speaker on an Institute for Development Studies panel discussion entitled: “Are current efforts to integrate climate change and development misdirected?” Leaning about the topic and understanding the different viewpoints and opinions made it a very interesting afternoon.
On Thursday I was lucky enough to be allowed to attend Hyogo Framework for Action Post-2015 and Global Platform Advisory group meeting at the Cabinet Office, which Kate attended as co-chair of the bond DRR group. It was an amazing opportunity to observe how organizations interact with the government, and I’ve very thankful to have been allowed to come along.
On Friday I completed the country risk profiles, and later in the day attended, with Kate, an Overseas Development Institute event launching the British Red Cross’ recent study on humanitarian action in urban areas: Learning from the city, centred around a panel discussion about the findings of the study, and assessing current and future humanitarian action in urban settings. The event gave me an understanding of how knowledge in the development sector is shared and enhanced through such discussions.
What did you learn during the placement?
The placement taught me a lot about how NGO’s operate in the development sector, and through my opportunity to interact with people working for CAFOD I learnt which skills are most desirable for a job in international development. Dr Kate Crowley provides an incredible example of how a background in geology can be applied to work in the development sector, and through observing her work I have a much greater appreciation of how geology can be used to benefit society.
Has this placement influenced your own future career plans?
I plan on continuing to look into opportunities in the development sector throughout the rest of my degree and once I graduate. I’d like to thank Dr Kate Crowley for her generosity in allowing me to shadow her for the week and understand her role. It is immediately obvious how passionate she is about the work she does, and how extremely talented she is at it, and I’m sure her advice will prove invaluable. I am very grateful to Joel Gill, founder of GfGD, for organizing the placement, and I would strongly recommend GfGD placements to other students who have an interest in the development sector.
On Wednesday we will be introducing you to those students undertaking GfGD placements with a range of organisations in July 2013. GfGD are very grateful to all those who have and will be hosting students – they are highly valuable opportunities for geoscience students. If you work in a development NGO, or are contributing to a development project within a consultancy, government survey/department, or policy/research institute and would like to know more about hosting a student for a 1-2 week shadowing scheme please contact GfGD National Director Joel Gill.