Asphalt road with mountain in background
Journal

Mitigating Infrastructure Disaster Losses Through Asset Management Practices in the Middle East and North Africa Region

Despite expanding infrastructure investments in developing countries, maintenance of constructed infrastructure is not keeping pace and there is a growing need to focus on the long-term operational demands of new assets to reduce vulnerability. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, natural hazards and civil conflicts continue to undermine development and disaster risk management. This research sought to examine how infrastructure asset management can reduce the impact of disasters in the MENA region. Twelve interviews were conducted with asset management and disaster risk reduction experts the MENA region and Australia – the latter to identify transferable asset management best practices. Qualitative analysis of interviews identified regional lessons to advance asset management practice as a disaster risk reduction tool. The four main findings were: (1) asset management practice can be a proactive disaster policy; (2) there is need for appropriate levels asset management policy in the MENA region; (3) asset prioritisation improves the effectiveness and decision making in risk management; and (4) whole of life consideration enables effective planning for asset management practices. In alignment with the priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, this research unpacks geopolitical factors affecting disaster risk and provides knowledge to strengthen governance to manage disaster risk in the MENA region. The research further outlines the barriers and challenges that hinder successful asset management policy implementation, as well as proposes recommendations for disaster mitigation strategies using infrastructure asset management.

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Timber framing of house walls and roof
Journal

Defining a Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements Research Agenda

Despite the knowledge gained on post-disaster sheltering and housing over the last several decades, there remains a disconnect in the evidence needed by humanitarian practitioners and the learning that the research community is capturing. To determine the research needed by practitioners, we assembled a Delphi panel of experts in humanitarian shelter and settlements. They first identified and then ranked the relative importance of research topics. Ninety-six research needs were identified and ranked by importance in six key areas that included: (1) comparing and evaluating approaches to sheltering, (2) shelter and settlement programming, (3) design and construction of shelter, (4) understanding impacts and outcomes of shelter, (5) disaster risk reduction and the humanitarian-development nexus, and (6) challenging contexts and topics. Top research priorities identified include a need to better understand how to support shelter self-recovery, longitudinal and long-term impacts of shelter, and the transition from response to recovery. The resulting needs provide a research agenda for humanitarian organisations, academic institutions, and donors, aligning with the Global Shelter Cluster’s strategy to invest in evidence-based response.

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Window of house with metal covering
Journal

Knowledge Adoption in Post-Disaster Housing Self-Recovery

The purpose of this study is to explore communication of hazard-resistant construction techniques after disaster in the absence of outside influence. It further aims to unpack the barriers and drivers in the adoption of knowledge processes to identify strategic recommendations to enlarge adoption of safer construction practices by local construction actors. This paper is based on analysis of stakeholder perspectives during post-disaster reconstruction in the Philippines in the province of Busuanga after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Data was collected from six communities that received no external housing assistance, analyzing surveys from 220 households, 13 carpenters, 20 key-actors coordinating reconstruction or recovery efforts, as well as 12 focus group discussions. This research argues for a stronger role of governmental agencies, vocational training schools and engineers. Current communication of typhoon-resistant construction knowledge is ineffective to stimulate awareness, understanding and adoption by local construction actors and self recovering households. The analysis in this study focuses on a small sample of communities in the west of the Philippines that are not frequently affected by typhoons. This is one of the few scholarly works in the Philippines focused on adoption of safer construction practices by community-based construction actors when technical housing assistance is absent.

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Two students sit around computer in office
Briefing Note

An Open Data Approach to Mapping Urban Drainage Infrastructure in Developing Communities

This study seeks to propose a standardized approach and methods for mapping urban drainage systems in developing communities. The research draws on a case study from the Philippines, which sought to conduct rapid elevation surveys and drainage assessments employing open source geographical information system (GIS) tools. We develop a standardized procedure for digitizing drainage systems using OpenStreetMap and Field Papers, as well as discuss applications of this data for drainage design. The results contribute to a methodological framework that can be replicated in other similar developing communities where study of urban drainage is needed for sustainable development and disaster risk reduction efforts.

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Concrete lined drain with flowing water
Journal

An Open Data Approach to Mapping Urban Drainage Infrastructure in Developing Communities

Urban flooding in developing countries represents a growing threat to sustainable development efforts, yet the tools needed to study these infrastructure systems in data-scarce environments are woefully inadequate. This study seeks to propose a standardized approach and methods for mapping urban drainage systems in developing communities. The research draws on a case study from the Philippines, which sought to conduct rapid elevation surveys and drainage assessments employing open source geographical information system (GIS) tools. We develop a standardized procedure for digitizing drainage systems using OpenStreetMap and Field Papers, as well as discuss applications of this data for drainage design. The results contribute to a methodological framework that can be replicated in other similar developing communities where study of urban drainage is needed for sustainable development and disaster risk reduction efforts.

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Timber framing of house under construction
Briefing Note

Defining a Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements Research Agenda

In the face of rising challenges, the humanitarian system is facing unprecedented change that requires better incorporation of past learning, but also the generation of new knowledge that can support aid to better assist communities affected by conflict and disaster. For the humanitarian shelter and settlements sector, there is an unclear roadmap for future research. The Global Shelter Cluster, in its current strategy , has called for the need to “further analyse existing evidence and gaps and set out a broader operational field research agenda.” This priority is one of four key pillars aimed to strengthen humanitarian shelter and settlement actors’ ability to respond effectively to crises. This study aimed to prioritise research needs within the humanitarian shelter and settlements sector. Drawing on Delphi methods, we solicited opinions on research needs from a panel of humanitarian shelter and settlement experts over three rounds of online surveys.

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Winding road through desert
Briefing Note

Mitigating Infrastructure Disaster Losses through Asset Management in the Middle East and North Africa Region

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has seen the number of disasters triple since the 1980’s. These losses are amplified by vulnerable infrastructure and are increasingly linked to poor maintenance of transportation links. Asset management and disaster risk reduction professionals from the MENA region and Australia were interviewed to understand how asset management can reduce disaster impacts on transportation infrastructure systems. Twelve interviews were completed with experts from the MENA region and Australia. Australian participants were included to shed light on more developed asset management practices with a lens for applicability of lessons to the MENA region. The asset managers interviewed worked in the public and private sector, as well as for multilateral organisations.

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Students in lecture hall during presentation
Report

Humanitarian Engineering in Australia & New Zealand: Past, Present, and a Way Forward

This paper examines the state of Humanitarian Engineering in Australia and New Zealand, developed through desktop research and interviews. It catalogues the various educational offerings offered by universities and outlines the current and future challenges to the ecosystem as identified through interviews with key academics.

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Person with virtual reality headset
Conference

Preliminary Evaluation of Immersive and Collaborative Virtual Labs in a Structural Engineering Unit of Study

In the last three years, the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sydney has been trialling the use of immersive virtual reality (IVR) in various engineering units of study. The focus of this paper is to present preliminary results of a study that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of immersive virtual reality (IVR) content in supporting student learning of key engineering concepts. Two research assistants independent of the teaching staff used event sampling to observe fourth-year structural engineering students exploring an IVR module during two structured IVR workshops. Inductive content analysis was employed to identify patterns and themes in the data which was collected during observations and to map the relation between observations and student interaction with IVR content. Preliminary results found that the IVR experience varied amongst students in both workshop sessions. The observers also noted limited student-to-student and student-to-teacher communication during the workshops, and inherent hardware and potential software design limitations. Students that verbally communicated with their peers were however generally able to keep pace with each other and complete activities at the same time. These students were more likely to communicate with the teacher in the classroom and less likely to utilise the services of the technical teaching assistants during the session. Furthermore, the practicalities, considerations, and potential improvements to the design of IVR modules and student workshops are discussed.

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Timber roof truss under construction
Journal

Assessing the Impact of Household Participation on Satisfaction and Safe Design in Humanitarian Shelter Projects

Participation has long been considered important for post‐disaster recovery. Establishing what constitutes participation in post‐disaster shelter projects, however, has remained elusive, and the links between different types of participation and shelter programme outcomes are not well understood. Furthermore, recent case studies suggest that misguided participation strategies may be to blame for failures. This study analysed 19 shelter projects implemented in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 to identify the forms of participation employed. Using fuzzy‐set qualitative comparative analysis, it assessed how household participation in the planning, design, and construction phases of shelter reconstruction led to outcomes of household satisfaction and safe shelter design. Participation was operationalised via eight central project tasks, revealing that the involvement of households in the early planning stages of projects and in construction activities were important for satisfaction and design outcomes, whereas engagement during the design phase of projects had little impact on the selected outcomes.

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