Author

Publications

Disclaimer: This list of publications is only representative of works published in direct collaboration with our lab and may not represent a complete record of an individual’s scholarly works.

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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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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Briefing Note

Prioritising Key Messages for Safer Humanitarian Shelter

The ‘8 Build Back Safer Key Messages’ developed by the Global Shelter Cluster in 2014 following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines have proved valuable in offering a ‘minimum checklist of disaster risk reduction construction techniques for owner-driven self-recovery.’ However, limited resources and misunderstanding often result in households selectively applying the concepts and there is a need to prioritise these messages in future responses. Current formats make distilling the relative importance of components difficult and there is a need to more systematically distinguish the messages. This research conducted a Delphi survey of 12 humanitarian shelter and structural engineering experts using the Analytical Hierarchy Process, a method that uses pairwise comparisons to rank items, to aid in further understanding the relative importance of humanitarian shelter key messages.

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Journal

A Comparative Analysis of Coordination, Participation, and Training in Post-Disaster Shelter Projects

The delivery of post-disaster shelter assistance continues to be fraught with challenges derived from the coordination of resources, involvement of project stakeholders, and training of households and builders. There is a need to better understand what project elements in the delivery of post-disaster shelter projects most influence resilience and sustainability. To address this need, we examined nineteen post-disaster shelter projects in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. We first characterized coordination, participation, and training employed across the planning, design, and construction phases of shelter projects and then used fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to assess the influence of these elements, alone and in combination, on building resilient and sustainable community infrastructure systems. Findings show that early involvement of households in planning efforts, combined with subsequent training, was important in evolving recovery outcomes. Our results point to the importance of: (1) supporting household sheltering processes over delivering hard products; (2) strategically linking project processes across phases; and (3) aligning humanitarian actions with long-term development. Conclusions from this study contribute to theory of sheltering in developing communities and more broadly to theory of recovery processes that link to community resilience and sustainability.

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Men carrying large logs
Conference

Community Participation in Post-Disaster Shelter Programs: Examining the Evolution of Participation in Planning, Design, and Construction

Participation in post-disaster shelter reconstruction is recognized as an important factor for supporting the sustainability and resiliency of the built environment. Engaging communities in the reconstruction process can help build community capacity and lead to sustained success of recovery projects. However, existing practice often assumes that differing forms of participation are independent of one another, neglecting to understand the influence that early participation may have on participation in later stages of the project. Past literature identified how communities participated in the planning, design, and construction phases in 19 different shelter projects following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. For this research, we used fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to analyze how participation in earlier phases of planning and design affected participation in the construction phase. Results show that early participation, particularly in the decisions of the planning phase, are critical in shaping later participation. Findings also reveal that participation is a process linked across multiple project phases and should not be viewed as a set of independent tasks. These results inform disaster recovery practice by encouraging project strategies that incorporate community participation from the beginning through the end of a project’s lifecycle.

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Construction worker nailing flooring on timber house
Journal

Household Construction Knowledge Acquisition in Post-Disaster Shelter Training

The incorporation of safer building practices into shelter after disasters continues to plague recovery efforts. While limited resources are one potential cause, evidence from case studies suggests that poor adoption of safer construction may stem from a knowledge deficit. Despite these shortcomings, previous research has done little to examine the current state of construction education and training in post-disaster shelter and housing, and there is lacking evidence to support how households acquire new knowledge of construction practice. Examining nineteen shelter projects in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, training methods were categorized using Kolb’s experiential learning theory poles. Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) was then used to analyze the impact of these methods on community construction knowledge. Findings reveal that households acquired knowledge either through a combination of formal training methods that encompassed reflective observation, active experimentation, and concrete experiences or alternatively through observation of on-site construction activities.

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Blog Posts

Poorly constructed houses sit next to ocean
Blog

Urban Sheltering: Evidence on Rental Subsidies and Hosting

Shelter is more than just four walls and a roof. Ask a family what a shelter provides and their first responses likely won’t be protection from the elements. Instead, you will generally hear about its value in supporting their storefront and livelihood or its function as a social gathering place.

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List of disaster journals plotted by bubbles representing impact
Blog

The Landscape of Hazard and Disaster Journals

As many researchers find, navigating the mass of academic journals can be overwhelming. The field of hazard and disaster research is particularly challenging given its inherently inter-disciplinary nature. I set out to compile a list of relevant hazard and disaster journals, as well as metrics that might characterize their relative

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Rows of blue resettlement housing with worn paint
Blog

Can We Draw a Line Between Humanitarian and Development Work?

Humanitarian workers have been busy recently. Conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe continued to drive an unprecedented number of migrants and refugees seeking asylum to Europe. Conflicts in Africa, such as the ongoing civil war in South Sudan,  continue to exacerbate already dire conditions. News headlines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

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Damaged masonry wall with coast in background
Blog

Co-creating Knowledge of Resilience Principles through Local Stories

Resilience – it’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? How would you explain it to disaster victim? How would they explain it to you? This November will mark the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda that smashed into the Philippines, making landfall as

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