Oxfam Leader Suggests Locals Build up their own Strength

Building strong foundations that yield greater resilience

Building strong construction infrastructureSpeaking on the goals of the Department for International Development, Oxfam senior policy adviser Ed Cairns suggested:
“There will always be a need for relief and response. But DFID gets the big point: that a much greater focus of humanitarian action should be on helping countries and communities build up their own strength to cope with disasters — which means that the long-term development and humanitarian enterprises are not so different after all.”

The big point that Mr Cairns makes is that lasting strength comes when the locals have the power to sustain much of their own needs, even in the face of disaster. He suggests that the real focus might be the “far longer-term work of making people less vulnerable to disasters forever”. By creating plans that build greater resilience among local resources, the work of other humanitarian services will be freed to have a greater impact upon the world.

We do not claim to be experts in international development, but we believe that a long-term solution to vulnerability rest upon the very foundations that support every local community. If we take steps to strengthen the local concrete infrastructure then we won’t see the amount of death and injury that requires high levels of  humanitarian rescue effort. If local construction in Haiti was as resilient as it is in Chile, New Zealand and Japan, then earthquake rubble clean-up would not drain reconstruction budgets like it does today. By taking a longer-term approach to developing quality concrete supply systems we yield two benefits; less destruction and more economic strength locally.

By providing business opportunities within the expanding concrete supply chain there will be increased job creation and local economic power. Building lasting strength through solid construction systems, tied to enterprise growth, is the best of both worlds. Locals become less vulnerable and international resources are saved for the important tasks of rescuing, feeding and healing the needy.

To support this contention we share a statement from the DFID’s website concerning building private economic strength for developing nations:

We believe the approach will be good for development and good for the UK. Fostering private sector growth in developing countries will help them become more attractive trading partners for the UK and better able to deal with disasters, disease and environmental degradation. We want private sector thinking to become as much part of DFID’s DNA as our work with charities and governments.

Mr. Cairns and the DFID share the big point that leaders among the international development community should examine  long-term programs that partner with private enterprises. Together we can build up local resilience to the disasters that we all face.

CementTrust suggests that solid foundations, built upon quality concrete should be a part of the goal.  What do you think?

Bruce Christensen is the author at CementTrust


About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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