Strong Concrete – Less Stuff to Fix

Another report calls for local capacity and resilience building.

Concrete supply chains are key to humanitarian succesThe latest report on international aid titled “Building the future of humanitarian aid is really just another voice hinting at the need for good concrete supply chains.

The paper never suggests that strong concrete will contribute to improved resilience in disaster affected regions. Even so, we all know that if buildings stand strong, then hundreds of thousands of lives are saved and billions of reconstruction dollars are never wasted. Strong concrete equals less stuff to fix following disasters…

Unfortunately good concrete construction is neglected in many humanitarian efforts. The majority of organizations focus on the highly visible rescue and relief programs that follow tragedy, not on the long-term efforts to grow a supply chain. It almost seems like disaster tragedy is the food that feeds their funding appetite.

We can’t blame these organizations when this is their business model. Take away the crumbling destruction resulting from poor concrete construction and how will they raise funds for a rescuing effort?

Building the future of humanitarian aid

Compassion with people affected by disasters across the globe drives people all over the world to acts of generosity and solidarity, and this aid is desperately needed. But this
very human reaction to emergency appeals and funding has created its own economic driver that at its worst can create perverse incentives against disaster prevention.”        From Christian Aid Report

This report by Christian Aid‘s Katherine Nightingale analogizes past humanitarian efforts as a tale of Knights and Pawns. A story of rescuing Knights from foreign lands who recruit local Pawns for the hard work, as the Knights take the credit.  They suggest a change in business model that moves the title of “Knight” down to the local people, rather than upon those who ride-in to rescue. Then further suggesting that the old version of “Pawns” be changed to be something closer to the definition of “Partners”.

This shift in thinking will require that organizations relinquish the power that they have over the story for humanitarian funding. Financing this foreign aid is a highly competitive business model that requires highly visible “needs” to capture the world’s purse strings.

“Innovative approaches to financing humanitarian work will need to engage the private sector and think particularly about how local actors can benefit and contribute to the
business model.” Christian Aid Report

Until we build strength within the local construction supply chain the stuff that is built will continue to fall down. The sooner we fund and support capacity building at the foundation level the sooner we will see a difference in disaster outcomes. Disaster resilience will come when funding presentations are successful after showing images of crumbling buildings and not just when crying children are displayed.

Let us change the business model of humanitarian aid from using the common pawns of disaster funding. Let’s commit to strengthening the local structures by offering business opportunities and training so that the future Knights from the neighborhood can be sustained. Over time we will see less stuff falling down and we will then have fewer orphans to rescue. What do you think?

Download the REPORT.


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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