RedR UK disaster relief

Year:Founded 1980

Duration:37 years (and counting)

Cost:Unknown

Country: London, UK

What did this project achieve?

Bring engineering skills and training to extreme disasters wherever in the world

The charity was founded by civil engineer Peter Guthrie at an ICE symposium in 1980 as the Register of Engineers for Disaster Relief. As its work in the humanitarian sector has evolved so it is now known as RedR UK.

The idea came from Guthrie's own time volunteering in a camp for Vietnamese refugees the previous year. He was the only engineer in the camp, helping provide water, sanitation and shelter for 40,000 people. The experience taught him that engineers' expertise was vital in emergencies.

RedR UK now has a successful 37 year track record of training engineers involved in humanitarian work. RedR UK courses include creating shelter in urban emergencies and developing groundwater.

Difference humanitarian projects have made

1,800 RedR UK members in 43 countries now work with the UN and aid organisations in times of crisis.

RedR UK members have helped coordinate humanitarian action in Mosul, Iraq. Thousands of people have been displaced in the region – fleeing the fierce battles between Iraqi troops and Islamic State forces.

RedR UK has also recently worked in Sudan where they set up water, hygiene and sanitation programmes for refugees escaping from South Sudan into Northern Uganda.

How RedR UK works

RedR UK currently works on humanitarian projects all over the world. They include:

  • Partnering with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on water quality and water safety programmes in Darfur, Sudan. RedR UK trained 240 government employees in all 5 states of Darfur – those employees are now working at field level to improve access to safe water and combat water-related diseases.
  • Launching an appeal to help the estimated 16 million people affected by food crisis in East Africa. RedR UK also ran courses for personal safety in emergencies for aid workers in Kenya as part of this initiative. The 3 day programme is designed for humanitarian staff working in hostile settings.
  • Running KnowledgePoint, a free online technical support service for people working in the field. The UN made KnowledgePoint the 'go-to' site for Hurricane Irma technical support in 2017.
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The best thing RedR UK does is to train local people. It's the training that lasts the longest and stays with them. This is how we make a difference.

Paul Jawor

civil engineer, RedR UK member and water and sanitation specialist

Fascinating facts

RedR UK trained 7,450 people in 55 countries in 2017. The organisation has offices in Kenya, Sudan and Jordan.

RedR UK ran 448 training programmes around the world in 2017. RedR courses cover a range of subjects from water to hygiene and sanitation. Courses can be in the field, in the classroom or online.

RedR UK training courses can involve simulations, where actors and volunteers take the parts of disaster victims. In May 2018 RedR UK will take a leading role in the SimEx series – the UK's biggest disaster response exercise. 600 actors will simulate an emergency over 10 sites.

People who made it happen

  • Peter Guthrie, civil engineer and ICE member

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