Future Terrains worked for BGS International (now, IGS Ltd) for 30-months on the DFID-funded-supported Extractive Sector Support Programme (ESSP) – a technical support programme to build government capacity in Ministry of Mines and Petroleum of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Future Terrains’ role involved developing and implementing comprehensive training packages for the new environmental geology team and the analytical chemistry laboratory of the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. While there we built relations with the National Environmental Protection Agency, which also participated in the training programme, enabling course participants to learn from each other.
We aimed to improve the skills of the environmental geology team in understanding and recognising environmental impacts around mines and how to manage them. Practical training was provided on how to collect samples of environmental media and transfer these to the laboratory for analysis. Environmental monitoring and sampling equipment was sourced and imported and donated to the AGS after training in its use had been provided. Another project aim was to develop a functional mining-environmental laboratory capability to enable the AGS to provide an analytical service in support of the statutory work of the Afghan government with respect to the country’s mining industry. Data manipulation and reporting was also taught. Where possible, we facilitated Afghan experts and companies to assist with the training.
The project involved classroom-based learning and some in-country visits but, unfortunately, these were limited owing to security concerns. Consequently, thinking laterally, we organised a 12-day, 2,000-mile field excursion to visit operating mines in Iran to build field experience and knowledge of mining in a similar geographic, ecological and cultural environment.
As well as building knowledge, the project also focussed on hands-on learning through experience and enhancing teamwork across institutional boundaries. Close personal and institutional support was provided to the teams and individuals involved in this project in, what is, a very difficult working environment.