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Master International Development Studies

Bastian Schnabel: 'My contributions to improvements'

Alumni testimonial

Bastian Schnabel graduated in International Development Studies in 2009

Bastian as embedded freelance journalist with the WFP in Uganda 2013 Photo: B. Schnabel

Since I first volunteered in sub-Saharan Africa in 2001, I always wanted to get a profession within the International Development sector and contribute to the improvement of less developed places. After graduating from my Bachelor degree in Geography, I realised that due to increasing competition in the NGO and development sector its necessary to go a step further and specialise in a related discipline. Therefore I choose the Master's in International Development Studies. Due to its academic reputation, especially in the field of political, economic and development studies, the University of Amsterdam with its Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) was among my first choices to complete my Master's. During my Master's in Amsterdam, I specialised on water and health development and I returned to Africa (Uganda) for my field research.

Missions and more

After graduation I joined the International Red Cross as a delegate and member of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and received further training in humanitarian law, hostile environments and technical assistance. My first mission was in remote eastern Kenya. In 2010, I started a traineeship as project engineer at a water engineering company where I further specialised in drinking water hygiene and well engineering. Later in  the same year I received an offer to take over a water-related project within the German Federal Environment Agency and the WHO Cooperation Centre for Drinking Water Hygiene, where I spend 2 ½ years as a scientific officer. After completing the project in 2013, I started to work as a freelance journalist  for several months and went on an embedded mission with the World Food Program and UNHCR. In the previous year, I received a scholarship and the possibility to do a PhD in water management and microbiology at the University of Brighton where I originally started my undergraduate career. Currently I’m busy working in my laboratories in England and Malawi, where I support several NGOs specialised on water and sanitation issues. My final research will lead to the development of a rapid diagnostic test for resource limited places and to the improvement of WHO’s water safety plan (WSP) concept.       

Specialisation is essential

The Master's in International Development Studies has helped me to understand development related politics and economics and has given me an inside into the understanding of poverty and its perceptions. Also, this master has definitely helped me to enter the humanitarian and development sector and to become a recognised water expert. However, to really improve people’s live on the ground, it is extremely important to further specialise in one of the several sectors within the international development cooperation. Technical and practical knowledge is essential. When planning and conducting your master field research, use this time to specialise in one of the several development sectors like e.g. health, water, agriculture, infrastructure, capacity building, education, good governance or gender rights.