Beyond Aid: The Role of Engineering Interventions in Contributing to International Development

By Heather J. Cruickshank.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The international aid industry is now a significant business in many countries and an employer across all levels of a society. Fragile states, post-conflict nations and poor countries attract considerable amounts of aid in the initial phases of international intervention. This period of transnational interest, and the amount and type of aid received varies substantially between countries. This paper addresses the opportunities that can result from this aid intervention in terms of future development of the host country. Building of human capacity and improving environmental protection can be direct effects of aid intervention that are manifested through engineering projects, but can only be achieved if the initial projects are executed in an appropriate manner, with an emphasis on application of sustainable development concepts. For this to be successful, engineers need to have particular skills to enable them to operate in a professional manner appropriate to their hosts and to the task at hand. This paper builds on case studies from a number of developing and transitional countries to explore the components needed and the limitations that currently exist. It ends with reflections on the lessons that can be learned from the development context, for application to all engineering interventions.

Keywords: Aid, International Development, Engineering, Capacity Building

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.155-167. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 443.260KB).

Dr. Heather J. Cruickshank

Senior Research Associate, Centre for Sustainable Development, Department of Engineering, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

Heather Cruickshank is a founding member of the Cambridge University Engineering Department Centre for Sustainable Development. She is deputy course director of the highly successful professional practice programme, MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development. Heather has experience working in Mongolia, Nepal, Albania and South Africa, as well as ten years as a civil engineer in UK. She worked as a senior engineering advisor for Concern Worldwide in Afghanistan and as a water and sanitation engineer in Indonesia following the 2004 tsunami. Her current research interests include: the roles and responsibilities of engineers towards implementing the concepts of sustainable development; education of engineers and awareness raising about engineering ethics and sustainable development; implementation of sustainable development concepts into large-scale community development; and mechanisms for exchanging knowledge within and between academia and industry. A focus on the roles and interactions of people at all stages of development is an ongoing theme of Heather’s research.