PMIEF’s “Project Management in the Disaster Management Sector: Integration, Capacity, Supports and Sustainability” recently convened internationally influential disaster management practitioners and experts in Copenhagen, Denmark. Held 14-15 November, the two-day roundtable fostered an interactive exchange of experience in applying project management in diverse hazard contexts and disaster settings, including preparedness, relief and response, recovery and rehabilitation. It also served to both inform and guide PMIEF’s decision-making on this important topic and how best we can further support the disaster management sector.
Response to the roundtable was overwhelmingly positive. Tanja Bergqvist, a project management expert at the Norwegian Refugee Council/NORCAP, said she “particularly appreciated the emphasis on open dialogue among all participants” even as she hopes her organization will “take part in contributing to a further professionalization of the humanitarian/disaster management sector through project management.” Similarly, Oscar Zuluaga, National Programs Manager at the Brazilian Red Cross, commented, “It was a great opportunity for me to learn and to share with others the opportunities and challenges we face in our work in Brazil.”
The event marked the foundation’s third disaster management convening. In 2013, PMIEF invited representatives of agencies, colleges and universities, and research institutions working in disaster management to identify key functions and capabilities that are critical to success yet frequently problematic in their formulation, execution and sustainability. Our goal was to deepen our understanding of the sector and to begin to ideate how, in correspondence with our philanthropic mission, we could most pragmatically support it by leveraging project management for social good.
A second meeting in 2014 further probed these topics with a broader range of actors and professional communities, resulting in our development of our Disaster Management Grants Initiative (“DMGI”) the following year. Through DMGI, we invited a select cadre of agencies to apply for grant support to receive project management training as well as to thoughtfully apply that training to the unique challenge(s) proposers identified in their request. PMIEF’s Disaster Management Task Team (comprised of PMI volunteers worldwide) supported our review and vetting of proposals, which resulted in grants awarded to three agencies: American Red Cross, CARE USA and Plan International.
Each grantee has been engaged in the implementation of its grant-funded initiative since last year even as each has remained committed to building and exchanging knowledge about the initiative’s efficacy in keeping with the purpose and intent of DMGI. Their sustained efforts and those of our technical adviser and external evaluator with whom they have collaborated help enable PMIEF to determine how best we can further advance the integration of project management within the disaster management sector.
This year’s international roundtable permitted an examination of DMGI – including lessons learned and their implications – from the perspectives of participating agencies, PMIEF, our technical adviser and our external evaluator. It also promoted meaningful dialogue among these and other attendees to generate new ways of thinking on how project management and, in particular, PMIEF, can continue to add value to the disaster management sector. In addition to DMGI agencies, Brazilian Red Cross and Norwegian Refugee Council/NORCAP, roundtable participants included representatives of the African Centre for Disaster Studies, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Columbia University’s National Center on Disaster Preparedness, Harvard University’s Humanitarian Initiative and Inter-American Development Bank.
PMIEF is grateful to this pantheon of thought leaders for sharing their insights and knowledge with us!