Swapping hard drives is a common exchange between humanitarian professionals working in remote regions. “Do you have any movies? Music?” When the professionals happen to be engineers or architects however, the conversation can quickly turn to work: “What about field manuals? Anything on post-earthquake reconstruction? Sanitation? Anything on septic construction?”
Humanitarian and development professions have matured, and methods of design and construction in complex environments are now documented. Organizations ranging from the International Committee of the Red Cross to Save the Children have developed field manuals for their staff to design programs. These are often disseminated internally, and in some cases they may be listed on an organization’s website.
That wealth of knowledge should be easier to access, and now it is. Engineering for Change’s Research Fellows have begun incorporating field manuals into the Solutions Library. Disparate resources are now collected together into a single location for professionals to access, compare and download. Still a work in progress, the pilot database lists 18 well-known manuals, ranging from Sustainable Reconstruction in Urban Areas to Community Driven Safe School Construction. These manuals are intended to instruct a wide range of readers, from professional engineers and program managers to students and academics. Thus far, all manuals are in English. Many of the documents listed, however, include diagrams and instructions than can be interpreted without language.
The E4C team plans to expand this portion of the Solutions Library, the living, freely available database of essential needs products and services. Construction manuals compliment the library’s nearly 1000 innovative products already documented. Using this new storehouse of manuals that illustrate methods of design, construction and project delivery, global development professionals may be able to better craft their response efforts and project planning.
If you have a recommendation for a field manual, please let us know by submitting a suggestion to the Solutions Library (open the link and select +TECH in the bottom left-hand corner).