Humanitarian Engineers

Engineers can make a vital contribution to the humanitarian response to a crisis.

In 2017, many of RedR UK’s training participants were working in engineering-related sectors, including WASH, Shelter and Logistics.

Challenges faced by engineers in the humanitarian sector.

As the humanitarian sector continues to grow and develop, we conducted a series of interviews with RedR UK Members to better understand the  challenges currently faced by engineers in the humanitarian sector. 

Through these interviews we identified several key trends, including the opportunity to work with national training organisations, the need for on-the-job support and mentoring, and the importance of ‘soft skills’, such as project management and leadership skills for engineers working in the field. 

One practical example was given by an interviewee who described a company donating solar lighting for a village, without providing tarpaulins for the lighting to stand on. The ability of engineers to put their technical engineering expertise to good use depends to a large extent on the ability to carefully consider the broader context in which projects are carried out.

RedR UK is proud of its engineering heritage and remains dedicated to working with engineers in the humanitarian sector, responding to the evolving needs of the sector by providing both technical and soft skills training to national and international staff as well as running mentoring programmes and offering technical support through technical Q&A forum KnowledgePoint.

“The problem I come across is not that much on the engineering side, it’s the sustainability and the fact that people have a very poor understanding of what is needed to ensure that equipment can survive in the field over a length of time. The challenge is that engineers need to understand not just how a piece of equipment works, but what is needed to enable it to keep working over a period of time. You cannot look at the piece of equipment as the ultimate point of procurement, you have to be able to look at capability”


RedR UK Member