Project Management

Project Management in a Time of Need

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I’m sure many of us have been following the news about the recent and devastating earthquake that took place in Nepal this past Saturday.  Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were lost in the disaster, and to all of those impacted and starting the difficult journey of recovery.

As a professional community of project managers, many of you may be wondering how to best support the work of responding to crisis, and rebuilding after a disaster, while others among us may have their own experiences and lessons learned that can be shared with those who are involved in these efforts.

I would like to use our Critical Path blog space this week to create a space where community members can:

  • identify relevant resources for disaster recovery
  • highlight organizations and agencies that are actively working to support the people of Nepal in this time of crisis
  • share personal experiences in disaster recovery in an effort to help capture effective practices and lessons learned

Please keep in mind, when working in dangerous environments where time and safety are critical, it is important to work through established channels and support those organizations and agencies actively involved.   

Be safe and be generous with your knowledge – the experience you share may be able to help those in need to better manage the process of recovery and rebuilding.

Posted by Danielle Ritter on: April 28, 2015 04:28 PM | Permalink

Comments (15)

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I would urge everyone to seek out their local Civil Defence organisations. Our skills and experience are valuable, but only if channeled well and trained to understand the environments and specifics. Many think of such things only in the context of huge disasters, but adverse weather, pandemics, civil unrest and the like can strike and require responses, and few communities can maintain the size of permanent paid resources, so rely on volunteers.

How does this help those in Nepal? By giving each nation confidence that it has sufficient resource it can call on to deal with domestic crises and have the flexibility to send expert help to such disaster areas. Here in NZ we are one of the greatest risk areas of natural disaster - quakes, volcanic activity, exposed to very severe storms, etc. We regularly send USR (Urban Search & Rescue) and other disaster response units around the world - we have some active in Vanuatu after the recent storms, and some are already in, and en route, to Nepal. We can do this because we know we have sufficient volunteers engaged to help with domestic incidents - otherwise we'd have to keep more of our trained units close by.

Thanks for sharing, Bernard!

Yours is a very important point - having to scramble to find and implement key resources following an emergency is lost time and introduces additional risk to the effort. Having these resources in advance, and keeping skills up to date through proactive training, ensures that a community can safely and expediently respond.

Often, too, the role of culture and environment is overlooked when planning to rebuild after a disaster. I'm glad that you highlighted the need to have individuals trained to think about the environment and specifics of the situation.

Thanks Bernard, Daniel. The RED CROSS helps people in times of disaster recovery / emergencies. Many corporations and individuals lend their support to RED CROSS.

Also would like to know about other forms of donations besides monetary donations - Am trying to reach out to these organizations who would accept canned foods, beverages, clothes, sleeping bags/ blankets, shoes, etc that can also be provided as part of relief measures, before the monetary disbursements reach individuals.

Are there any organizations / non profit groups that accept these donations in this situations. Pls share on inputs. Thanks !

Danielle, You are 100% right, however do remember that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Danielle - Great topic to discuss - and the announcement at PMXPO let me know the discussion was here. While I have wondered how I could best support disaster recovery efforts - I always am thinking - can I go there (not likely), or how to I direct donations to the best organization to support the specific effort/cause. This blog has provided a third option - Can I provide PM support in a virtual manner - maybe not directly to Nepal today - but potentially to one of the great organizations with resources providing direct support.

Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts!

Jesper, your point is well-taken. Disaster recovery is already dangerous and difficult, and when they strike in communities where resources are already scarce and stretched, the challenge is that much greater.

Sheryl's question resonates even more in this case - can we provide PM support to one of the great organizations with resources providing international support? By building out a body of experiential knowledge and best practices, perhaps those organizations can draw upon it to increase their own capabilities to respond.

If anyone is looking for a great place to send aid to the Nepal earthquake victims you can visit I work at World Vision and we are working very hard to send money, supplies as well as teams to Nepal to assist as best as we can. Any amount will help these people who are among the poorest in the world.


Thanks for sharing this Keith! It's great to hear from someone in the community who is working to aid the people of Nepal. Hopefully our blog will provide some visibility to World Vision's effort for members looking to lend support.

It would be interesting to hear about how you apply project management within a relief organization, and what the community should know about when exploring opportunities to support these efforts.

A meeting of seismologists in Nepal recently could not predict an earthquake. However comments afterward by seismologists include the view that this quake did not adequately relieve the accumulating strain and that a magnitude 8 or more quake would be better for relieving the strain for a reasonable length of time. However an Earthquake Early Warning System would be helpful. Nepal has about 350 radio stations and over 20 TV channels that could be used to broadcast alerts using an improved Emergency Alert System, and suitable cellphones could receive WEA alerts. However the technology needs improving and Senate Bill S.2664 (2014 IPAWS Reauthorization) is not being discussed in committee at present. Flood map broadcasting is another desirable improvement.

I also felt series of shocks because proximity of New Delhi(India) in the range of earthquake waves that forced us to come out of buildings and waiting at streets in anticipation of aftershocks .

A blog is posted by Secretary General -UN ..Nepal Earthquake: How can you help ( wherein he mentioned several organizations such as Unicef/World food program/COHR for humanitarian & disaster relief . I supported through donation with unicef & wfp, even in some countries amount is tax exempted and they update by mail in what way & how fast money is put to relief work.

Thanks Ritter ..

Thank you for sharing this post, Vineet, and for sharing your own experience.

I hope that you and the members of your local community were not too negatively impacted by the effects of the earthquake.

Thanks all for sharing your value able comments and suggestions. In my opinion I feel It is the beauty of this project management profession that emphasizes a lot on Ethical behavior and Social Responsibilities. I m fortunate to be in community of you people.

I realize that I'm coming to the game a little late, here. However, this series of posts was actually very moving. When I initially heard about the quake, I didn't even consider the possibility of working with and within my community of professional affiliates here at PMI to help as best we can. This is something that I will keep in mind always and from now on. I certainly appreciated Anil's comment and would second his statement that ethics and social resonsibility are major emphases in all the work we do as project managers. Thanks for enlightening me, all!

Thank you all for continuing to share your thoughts and experiences in this thread - while we started this discussion in response to the crisis in Nepal, there is, unfortunately, always a new potential or actual disaster impacting the communities in which we live.

For those impacted by the widespread flooding that has destroyed homes and lives in Texas and Oklahoma in the US, please be safe and, if offering to help in the recovery, remember to work through the local authorities and official response organizations, to reduce confusion and further potential risk.

As several of you have commented, this community is not only bound by a shared profession, but a shared passion to continue to make the world around us better. As project managers, you are building better communication channels, improving healthcare and developing new ways to treat disease, building bridges and infrastructure to connect people and power cities. This community never fails to inspire and amaze me.

Thank you all for being a part of it.

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