The "Final Report" After-Party: Architects, why?

After presenting my "Final Report" I got an interesting, however repetitive, question from one of the current students (sorry, I forgot the name). 

The question was:

Are foreign architects needed in developing countries context for international aid projects?

I find it curious that it was -more or less- the same question my supervisor in RW told me to think of while I was putting together the pieces for the last version of the document.

Before going through some points I will mention what a friend in RW said (something I wrote in a previous post): "I thought architects only did big projects for money" (roughly translated).

The points to mention are:
  1. Architects are required not only for technical skills but also for the project's amount of mone -for managerial reasons.
  2. A construction project or program management can be so time-consuming that exploring alternatives becomes a constraint to effectiveness.
  3. A project management position does not require design activities -making it extra job.
  4. There are organizations exploring these "alternatives" but sharing initiatives is not so common yet.
  5. Depending on the relationship Gov't-UN, it can block or pass the use of these options
  6. Millions and millions moving around, and organizations can have very limited capacity (architects) at high-level offices.
  7. Agencies need to show good results; failures must to be avoided.
  8. The same way we can criticize Gov'ts for not undertaking measures to reduce CO emissions, we can also criticize big development agencies (UN) for preferring concrete and iron bars.

Foreign, or better, experienced architects are needed in developing countries for testing reasons, to explore these "alternatives". [Sometimes we don't see the options because we are too close to see them.] Moreover, in certain countries, foreign architects are needed for managerial reasons -sometimes you have only 20 experienced architects in one country.

Therefore, architects are needed for these tasks. But the role or impact will depend on the assignment and the context's support.

I didn't take the question as a personal critique to my experience. I am happy that I got to complete my objectives. Nevertheless, the question is valid, and I recognize its validity better in the broad UN context.


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