Local engineers must be involved with overseas consultants

Even if overseas engineers are engaged to design projects in Samoa, local engineers should be embedded in the project to learn from it, Engineers without Borders New Zealand  (E.W.B.N.Z.) Chief Executive Officer believes.

This week, Samoa opened its branch of the South Pacific Engineers Association (S.P.E.A.), which includes the New Zealand chapter of the international engineering non-profit.

C.E.O. Dane Hart said while it’s true that Pacific Islands may face occasional engineering challenges they need external help for, those international consultants should not take over the work.

“I am very clear with our organisation, we’re not an engineering organisation and we are not here to build things,” Mr Hart said. 

E.W.B.N.Z. is a not for profit organisation trying to create change through humanitarian engineering.

“We’re here to make sure others can build things and continue to do so into the future because we’re very much a training organisation as opposed to a delivery one.”

The organisation connects specialised engineers with projects that need their skills to coach and mentor engineers who live and work on the ground.

Mr Hart said he works carefully to not displace local engineers, but rather to build capacity in their country long term.

“Sometimes things are really unique or really big and you might need to bring in international consultants or contractors but through that procurement process you can still make sure locals are involved in some way and that they are not completely pushed aside .

“With modern contracts there is always subcontracting and things like that, you can always make sure locals are involved and are able to contribute what they can contribute.”

He said he believes S.P.E.A. and E.W.B.N.Z. are a match made in heaven, with closely aligned development and capacity building goals.

“Obviously they have got real local knowledge that us sitting in New Zealand can never have so I think it’s a match made in heaven. It’s exciting for us,” he said.

Mr Hart has been a member of E.W.B.N.Z. for ten years. In his career he has led the Research Team, the Dialogues on Development team and most recently he oversaw the Leadership and Training programmes within E.W.B.N.Z. for three years.

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