Rebuild a community - middle years
Engineers assess the disaster area
One of the projects is to research natural disasters and work like a humanitarian engineer to plan and rebuild a disaster affected community.
Humanitarian engineers do amazing volunteer work all over the world. They include engineers from various fields, all of whom play a huge role in improving the quality of life of people in disadvantaged communities. From the delivery of power and clean water, to the design of sanitation services and infrastructure, engineers' ingenuity helps solve many problems facing people in need.
For example, did you know that:
- right now 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation (e.g. adequate toilets)?
- one quarter of the world's population does not have access to electricity?
- over one billion people do not have adequate access to clean drinking water?
These are things that many of us take for granted, but engineers can provide the knowledge, resources and appropriate technologies to assist communities in accessing these basic needs and improving their lives.
Repairing a bridge
Some of the key areas on which engineers focus include:
- water supply
- waste disposal
- support for disabled people.
Humanitarian engineers also work with communities which have been devastated by natural disaster.
Natural disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Many are weather-related (cyclones, floods or hurricanes), others have geological causes (volcanoes, earthquakes or tsunamis) and some are due to climatic conditions (bushfires, droughts, heatwaves or avalanches). Whatever the cause, these disasters have a devastating impact on the affected communities.
While we are used to seeing organisations such as the SES and the defence forces provide an immediate response to natural disasters, engineers are also an important part of this team. Their skills are useful in areas such as setting up temporary housing, finding and providing sources of clean drinking water, and dealing with sanitation issues.
Rebuilding a house
Humanitarian engineers also focus on the challenges of long-term redevelopment in disaster-affected communities. This involves working with the community to rebuild infrastructure and services, share knowledge and provide access to resources. The aim when rebuilding infrastructure is to ensure that it is safer and more sustainable than it was before the disaster.
Right now humanitarian engineers are working on hundreds of projects all around the world. Some of these include:
- providing assistance to Australian communities affected by the January 2011 floods. This assistance ranges from the cleaning up of rubble and mud to the planning of new roads and improved floodways.
- working in remote Indigenous communities to provide culturally and environmentally appropriate amenities blocks (toilets and showers), shelter and electricity.
- collecting and fixing bicycles to provide a sustainable and affordable form of transport for the Sudanese refugee community in Melbourne.
- assessing the quality of the drinking water in communities in Vietnam and helping to install infrastructure to improve it.
If you would like to learn more about rebuilding a community after a natural disaster, ask your teacher about this EngQuest project.