Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC approved to establish RedR in Canada

It's official. ACEC has been given the go-ahead by RedR International (Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief) to establish a Canadian chapter of this well respected and increasingly sought-after di...

March 1, 2001   Canadian Consulting Engineer

It’s official. ACEC has been given the go-ahead by RedR International (Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief) to establish a Canadian chapter of this well respected and increasingly sought-after disaster relief organization. RedR Canada’s mandate is to help relieve suffering in disasters by selecting, training and providing competent and effective relief personnel to humanitarian relief agencies worldwide for short-term assignments of up to three months.

RedR was first established in 1979 and today has chapters in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, with its international headquarters located in Switzerland.

As ACEC looks to identify interested Canadian engineers and secure the necessary start-up financing, we thought that you might like to read about how some British and Australian RedR engineers have described their experiences.

For instance, in 1999 Adrian Denyer participated in an Oxfam-supported emergency water program in Dinka, South Sudan to address the famine crisis occasioned by heavy rains and subsequent harvest failures. His job with Oxfam was to assist in the drilling of boreholes with small portable direct circulation rotary rigs.

Sue Adams, an environmental engineer from Australia, served on a project in the Chokwe District in the south of Mozambique about two weeks after the severe floods of February 2000. Her job was to run a water tanker operation to help supply a camp of 70,000 displaced nationals. When the floods receded her task turned to coordinating work groups who were clearing out river mud and refuse from public buildings, clearing the streets of rubbish and placing it into orderly piles for collection, filling potholes to improve access, and preparing schools to re-open. She said that her assignment with RedR provided “an excellent antidote to a tinge of boredom creeping into her daily life.” It put her “back in touch with what life is all about,” which for her was “trying to make life easier for other people, whilst experiencing the wealth of experiences the world has to offer.”

Similar stories to these could be told today by RedR engineers serving in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Honduras, Uganda and in literally dozens of other countries facing terrible hardships.

In addition to the personal satisfaction enjoyed by individual engineers who participate in RedR projects, engineering firms who have allowed staff to be seconded to aid projects seem to have an equally positive view of the experience.

Morag Baird of Binnie Black and Veatch (U.K.) believes that active support of relief work provides good PR and raises the firm’s profile with big donor clients. He says that through their staff’s involvement in RedR assignments, managers increase their experience and develop confidence, while their companies gain understanding of emerging markets.

And other companies see opportunities for human resource recruitment and retention. Adventurous and curious types, with good teamwork, leadership and problem-solving abilities, whether engineers or administrators, will be attracted to companies willing to allow them the opportunities for personal development on RedR assignments.

If you are interested in learning how you can become personally involved in the work of RedR Canada, call Hlne Schneider at the ACEC National Office (613) 236-0569. If your firm is interested in becoming a founding patron, email tpage@acec.ca.


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