Expert: ‘Shovel-ready’ projects ignore important aspects of community resilience

How resilience helped this former refugee become an award-winning researcher

Determination is Alfred Mupenzi’s defining characteristic. Born in a Ugandan settlement camp to Rwandan refugees, he was an orphan by the time he was 12. The Western Sydney University researcher and support officer said it was not until he arrived in Australia in 2013 that his life began to take “shape”.

His drive to overcome a challenging past led to a post-doctoral degree on the resilience of African students, which he completed last month while on a bridging visa. Now he is sharing his experience for International Refugee Week to highlight how migrants from refugee backgrounds can thrive, with the right support, in new countries…


Expert: ‘Shovel-ready’ projects ignore important aspects of community resilience

Housing projects can bring people back into community centers Image Credit: JivkoM/Shutterstock

Roads, cycleways and housing developments are among 11 projects announced this week as the first tranche of infrastructure developments to kickstart New Zealand’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is investing at least NZ$3.3 billion into “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects, which will be fast-tracked under a new law currently going through parliament.

But this approach ignores an important aspect of recovery. In our research, we make the case that communities become more resilient to future crises when people have access to basic services such as supermarkets, hospitals and schools. The people selecting recovery projects should ensure the projects prepare communities for future hazards and reduce future vulnerability…


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