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Photo credit: CRS

On the 8th of February BRE will be hosting the Working Together for Disaster Relief conference, which aims to bring professional and financial services, manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors together with humanitarian actors to examine ways that these groups can work together in post-disaster reconstruction and development.

Held collaboratively with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Save the Children and with support from Oxford Brookes University, the conference will address the issues of private sector engagement in the humanitarian sphere and of ‘localisation’, where the international community is encouraged to support and develop local capacity to prepare and respond in humanitarian crises.

“The private sector has a lot to offer in terms of assisting reconstruction and recovery following disasters, but there are also challenges to effective collaboration between international and local actors. We want this conference to address some of these challenges and to start a dialogue to improve the capacity for all actors to work together for disaster relief. The outcomes of this conference should help individuals from all sectors to better understand what they can do to support and engage with relief and development activities,” said Andrew Powell, Construction Technical Adviser at Save the Children

In acknowledging that the key to increasing climate resilience is improving the skills and capabilities of the worst-affected communities, the international humanitarian sector hopes to reduce the impact of natural disasters wherever they occur. However, this effort requires the technical expertise and resources of the global private sector to support local actors in building their resilience.

“We feel that the issue of localisation is key to supporting the successful recovery of communities in the long-term. The technical expertise of the private sector, in the fields of construction, infrastructure, finance, technology, logistics, and more can not only support post-disaster recovery but build local capacity and enable entrepreneurial opportunities in affected areas. These are all issues that we want to explore in the conference. This day will hopefully enable a better understanding of the needs and interests of the sectors, and help us to find ways to work together more effectively moving forward,” said Jamie Richardson, Shelter & Settlements Technical Advisor at CRS.

This conference is partly a result of previous collaboration between BRE and CRS on various projects, including the demonstration humanitarian shelter at BRE’s innovation park in Watford and CRS’ use of QSAND in their reconstruction projects following the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal. As part of CRS’ efforts in Gorkha District, Nepal, there was a heavy focus on community participation in the process. CRS supported the private sector by helping local masons and small contractors  attain the skills and training needed to help home owners rebuild their houses safely meeting government standards.

Photo credit: IFRC

These sorts of activities are built into the QSAND framework, as a key component of the tool is community ownership and participation in construction projects. Recovery programmes should be sensitive to the needs of the community and inclusive to all, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through the leadership of the affected community in the planning and execution of the whole project. QSAND encourages capacity building initiatives and the use of local contractors where possible as this improves community resilience to potential future disasters, whilst securing livelihoods and the economic viability of the affected area.

In support of this, the Working Together for Disaster Relief conference has been organised to explore the ways in which the private and humanitarian sectors, both local and international, can collaborate to improve the capacity and resources available to disaster-affected communities in a wide variety of pre- and post-disaster scenarios.

The day will consist of interactive discussions and presentations from actors in the private, political, academic, and humanitarian sectors to address a wide variety of options for improving localisation actions globally.

With a focus on key issues facing the humanitarian and private sectors in collaborating for disaster relief, the conference aims to provide a forum to address these challenges and opportunities in order to develop best-practice recommendations moving forward. In particular, attendees will discuss research and development, building local capacity and supporting local enterprise, engagement with the construction and infrastructure services, and financial services, technology and operations in post-disaster reconstruction.

“We are pleased to be able to support the conference and take part in what we are expecting to be an engaging day. BRE’s mission is to build a better world together. We see this conference as a step towards that, and  a way to extend our outreach in support of the BRE Trust’s aims of advancing knowledge, innovation and communication in the built environment for public benefit.” said Yetunde Abdul, QSAND Programme Manager at BRE.

The conference is free to attend for NGOs and charities, with a modest £50 charge for private sector attendees. You can find out more and  register to attend here. We hope to see you there!

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