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Consultants accused of disaster aid arrogance

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CONSULTANTS are putting their own egos ahead of effective disaster management and failing to liaise effectively with established development organisations, a leading international relief engineer said this week.

Arup associate director Jo Da Silva who heads the firm's new International Development business, said more thought should go into engineering rms' development policies. Da Silva is a founder member of disaster relief charity RedR-IHE.

'A huge number of engineering companies would like to send people [to disaster zones] when something like a tsunami happens. They feel they have a lot to offer.' But she said many rms attitude to disaster relief was wrong.

'You get reactions which say, 'make use of us, we do not want to be ignored'.

'It displays a certain arrogance and I think it is important that the professional communities, whether it is engineers or architects, recognise that the expertise in dealing with the very dif lt situations that result following a disaster, rests with non-government organisations (NGOs) - the Red Cross, and UN agencies, ' she said.

Da Silva said this also applies to development work.

'It is the same in development. NGOs like Oxfam, CARE or Medecins Sans Frontiers or Save the Children, are equivalent in their level of expertise and their professionalism as the Arups, Halcrows and Mott MacDonalds - it is their business, ' she said.

'Engineering rms need to be clear about whether they want to get into aid - whether it is a media response thing or if they are in it for the long term.' Arup's nternational Development arm will launch on 1 April , to provide low-cost engineering solutions for development agencies.

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