British construction consultants are to join an organisation being set up to deliver emergency aid in the aftermath of disasters.
The unit, Humanitarian Emergency Logistics Professionals, is intended to increase the speed with which temporary shelters and logistical support can be delivered to disaster zones, and increase expertise in the sector. The move follows criticism of the speed and co-ordination of recent international relief efforts, particularly that which followed the South-east Asian tsunami in 2004.
The steering group for the organisation includes representatives from the Department for International Development, the British Army and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.
One aspect of the organisation will be a rapid response database of experienced construction and other logistics professionals who are ready to be deployed to international disaster zones.
Bernard Auton, a director of the Chartered Institute of Logistics, said: "Representatives from government, non-governmental organisations and the engineering and logistics sectors got together after the tsunami. Logistics skills were found to have been lacking in that operation."
Logistics skills were found to have been lacking in the tsunami operation
Bernard Auton, Chartered Institute of Logistics
Firms involved with HELP include construction logistics and security company Wilson James, which sent staff to Indonesia after the tsunami.
Steve Unsworth, logistics manager, said: "Some of the areas where temporary schools and accommodation were needed were very remote, and could only be accessed by helicopter. Initially, HELP wants to provide a database of individuals and firms who can be deployed to assist in these situations."
The World Bank is planning to appoint a project manager to mastermind the reconstruction of Indonesia after the disaster, as the Jakarta government has failed to co-ordinate the work effectively.