Capacity strengthening

Afghanistan Geological Survey laboratories

Nigeria Geological Survey Agency laboratories

Road dust sampling in India

The Inorganic Geochemistry team undertakes work in many countries, especially within sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia, often through capacity strengthening projects or scientific partnerships, which may be funded by the host organisation or major organisations such as the World Bank or the UK Department for International Development (DFID). These projects may be specifically aimed at geochemistry and laboratories, or part of a wider institutional strengthening project with other colleagues in BGS Global.

Our approach is always to do an initial evaluation of the existing skills capability, laboratory infrastructure, equipment, and supporting infrastructure, with our local counterparts to develop a sustainable capacity strengthening plan. The scope of evaluation includes but is not limited to:

  • management systems for quality assurance
  • sample preparation
  • sample analysis
  • sample analysis by sub-contractor laboratories
  • quality control of analytical data

Projects often require local delivery of training priorities agreed with the stakeholders and can be complemented with short–term visits to our own laboratories when in–country capacity strengthening is not possible. We have developed considerable experience resulting in a wide range of training activities which we can use to provide a customised training programme.

We also undertake individual technical skills development with scientists in companies, institutes and universities through international funding initiatives such as the DFID Commonwealth Scholarship Council UK fellowship, Royal Society International Exchange or Royal Society of Chemistry analytical chemistry training schemes. These types of scheme provide funds for travel and training, and have proved very successful in transferring skills. In these instances we typically provide both laboratory and wider research programme training (e.g. advanced data presentation and analysis).

We have considerable experience in developing research skills in sub–Saharan Africa through PhD training, jointly with in–country university and agricultural research institute counterparts and in partnership with the University of Nottingham through the joint Centre for Environmental Geochemistry. We were awarded a Royal Society–DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative programme grant "Strengthening African capacity in soil geochemistry to inform agricultural and health policies" (2015–2020), which has three core–funded PhD studentships in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as further associated PhD studentships underway or in development.

Recent projects


Please contact Michael Watts, Charles Gowing or Simon Chenery for further information.