Consultation and collaboration – key to global infrastructure success

WSP engineer Claire Gott was awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours for her work with charity Cameroon Catalyst. She says charities and consultancy face the same issues overseas and benefit from working together.

Global infrastructure opportunities are growing and as we move into a post recession environment, businesses all over the world are looking to maximise their outreach abroad once more.

In particular those working in the developing world are keen to build on their investments and continue to break down overseas barriers. These barriers and challenges can face businesses and charities alike and for UK based engineering charity Cameroon Catalyst they are well known.

Since 2009 we have delivered community-led infrastructure projects to improve medical and educational facilities in North East Cameroon. While the design and fundraising of each project is undertaken here in the UK, the successful construction of these projects is largely driven by local influences in Cameroon. Reliance on existing infrastructure on the ground can leave organisations vulnerable to additional costs, putting projects at risk.

This is something Cameroon Catalyst faced during the recent installation of a solar panelled hub, highlighting that without meticulous planning, unexpected costs can occur due to delays in transportation and delivery of equipment and supplies. Consultation and collaboration with local governments and NGOs is crucial.

Another matter to consider is language. The use of technical terminology during construction projects elevates the importance of breaking down language barriers to ensure that all parties involved in these projects seek the same end result.

The presence of a multinational consultancy firm can safeguard against some of the challenges.

One such firm is Article 25, which has collaborated with Cameroon Catalyst to formulate a new five year plan for continued work in North East Cameroon. With a focus on water and sanitation, the aim is to boost efficiency within the community-led infrastructure development model, accounting for lessons learnt so that similar projects can be put to practice across the region.

Clearly there are still some issues associated with cross border working, but it is the implementation of lessons learnt that is crucial to breaking down overseas barriers.


For more information about Cameroon Catalyst visit their website at www.camerooncatalyst.org.