International Cooperation

Construction has an important role in humanitarian and development aid. For humanitarian aid, beyond the provision of health facilities, sheltering and sanitation, examples of extensive road construction by the World Food Program to enable food distribution highlights an important humanitarian function of building. For development aid, construction of physical infrastructure supports economic development and the provision of basic services.

Construction in the context of international cooperation often involves engagement of international organisations with local industries and local markets, which can entail a disjunction between generic or bureaucratic approaches and specific conditions. Designs for buildings and infrastructure may rely upon standards and technologies that are more suited to advanced economies rather than the contexts of humanitarian and development aid. Construction contracting and procurement arrangements may respond to international standards and fiduciary responsibilities to donors more than prevailing regulatory and market conditions.

While construction has an important role it is typically only tangential to the core business of organisations involved in providing humanitarian and development aid; construction is the means to an end, hence a focus on the product and, perhaps, a neglect of the potential value of the process of construction. Beyond improving immediate project outcomes, could responsive arrangements for design and management of construction projects, accounting for prevailing industrial conditions and institutional constraints, support broader contributions of construction processes to industrial and economic development?