Finland’s Minister for International Development, Pekka Haavisto, is encouraging companies in the wood product sector to enter the growing international market for humanitarian aid in disaster areas, in which there is demand for wooden homes for distressed families.
– There is a growing need for new products and innovations in the fields of construction, clean water and food, says Haavisto. We must get into the supply chains of large aid organisations, which order products needed in crisis areas.
More than US$ 15 billion per year is spent on international humanitarian aid. Because it is not usually possible to buy aid supplies locally, they have to be purchased on international markets. – The world has a growing number of different humanitarian crises caused by wars and natural disasters, and they all require aid, says Pekka Haavisto, the Finnish Government Minister for International Development. When you also take into account reconstruction, it is a question of large and growing markets.
According to Haavisto, the ministry is being offered different aid products such as clean drinking water, food and housing solutions for crisis-hit regions. – Wood constructors should become more actively engaged in the international market for humanitarian aid, where major players are operating. We must get into the supply chains of large aid organisations, which order products needed in crisis areas.
Wooden buildings suitable for reconstruction
Haavisto thinks that wooden buildings are excellently suited to the second wave of aid and reconstruction after the first stage, which involves rapidly ensuring the availability of tent accommodation. – It must also be borne in mind that refugee camps often grow into towns and the buildings constructed there tend to remain as permanent structures. By way of example, Haavisto mentions a Macedonian ministerial colleague who lives in a wooden Finland House, which was exported to Skopje as disaster aid in the wake of an earthquake.
The aim of manufacturers of wooden homes for distressed families is to produce ecological accommodation, toilet and auxiliary facilities that are more durable than tents to meet the needs of reconstruction. The buildings needed in disaster areas should be light, easy to move and erect and, if necessary, also easy to extend, dismantle and recycle. The transportation of building elements to intermediate storages and disaster areas should also be competitive.
Haavisto encourages wood constructors to take advantage of international humanitarian aid organisations and civic organisations, which have the resources and expertise for purchasing. – The tendering principles and the need for aid of major aid organisations must be investigated and bidding competitions must be entered, says Haavisto. Wood product companies should start to co-operate with the international humanitarian cluster to promote export.
– Wood construction in disaster areas is justifiable as a renewable, reusable material, says Haavisto. Solutions must take into account not only the local culture, but also climate and natural conditions such as matters relating to storm-, moisture- and termite-resistance. Local culture and local conditions must therefore be recognised and the use of local materials and manpower must also be promoted.
Haavisto encourages companies in the wood sector to seek technological expertise and take advantage of partners in international markets, then even small companies can get involved in business consortia to develop and offer their products.
– It’s important for products to be tested and piloted in conditions for which they are intended before being marketed to aid organisations operating in disaster areas. Markets in disaster areas are challenging and risky, because disasters usually take place in developing countries where the operating conditions are unstable and dangerous, says Haavisto.
Article service/Markku Laukkanen