Picking Up the Pieces: Project Management Techniques in Disaster Recovery

Lynda Bourne

Aid, relief and disaster recovery projects operate in a different environment from typical IT, engineering and business projects. In addition to the risk exposures and more immediate pressures, some of the key differences are:

  • Most of the people affected are unaware of project management processes
  • Many are likely to be physically and/or mentally traumatized
  • Much of the infrastructure we take for granted is damaged or destroyed

The project management community has been building skills and capabilities specifically attuned to the needs of recovery projects since the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of December 2004. The PMI Educational Foundation developed the PMI Project Management Methodology in Post Disaster Reconstruction, which is used worldwide, and there has been significant additional research focused on developing effective relief project methodologies.

Following last year’s devastating Pakistan floods, which killed almost 2,000 people and affected more than 20 million, PMI chapters in Pakistan sought assistance to help rapidly build basic project management capabilities within the relief efforts.

Recognizing that on-site training would be the most effective option, Paul Steinfort, PMP, PhD, of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Melbourne, Australia, volunteered to go to Pakistan and recruited two …

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