Poor response to urban-based humanitarian disasters prompted the launch this week of a new training initiative by engineering disaster relief charity RedR.
Insurance broker Lloyds’ grant provider Lloyds Charities Trust is to fund RedR’s new three-year programme.
The aim is to train up engineers and aid workers to help aid agencies respond more effectively to urban humanitarian disasters.
RedR will first identify the key engineering skills missing from today’s urban emergency response. It will then identify around 40 engineers to be trained in humanitarian aid practices and principles to prepare them for deployment to cities as soon as disaster hits.
Around 20 specialists from leading aid agencies will also be given specialist training in how to quickly reinstate clean water and waste water systems and how to structurally assess buildings after mega earthquakes.
RedR technical support services manager Toby Gould said there was a “gap in expertise”. He is project managing the £225,000 initiative.
“The background to [humanitarian response] is rural,” said Gould. “For example you respond to a famine in Africa by setting up a refugee camp.”
This is not as complex as dealing with crises in the interconnected urban environment.
“Most humanitarians are not trained to respond efficiently to large scale, complex urban emergencies.
“This kind of emergency is becoming more and more common, but the response of most aid agencies has not significantly changed in the last few decades,” he said.
“Aid workers don’t get taught to project manage infrastructure assessments and repairs to water treatment works, roads, power supplies, municipal buildings and hospitals.”
The project will also seek to improve access to technical know-how for aid workers in the field by bolstering RedR’s Technical Support Service.