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10 January 2007
Jo da Silva
Jo da Silva, a graduate of the Department, now an Associate Director of Arup and a frequent guest lecturer on the MPhil Sustainable Development course, has been named 'Individual of the Year 2006' for her role in a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) project. The project was to provide appropriate transitional shelter for people made homeless by the Boxing Day tsunami two years ago.
In an interview with The Times newspaper she said "About 120,000 homes were lost in Sri Lanka and my role was to co-ordinate the shelter sector where more than 100 non-government organisations were proposing to build shelters. We set standards for the shelters to be 200sq ft and 6ft high at the eaves, so people could stand up and sit down, with secure lockable doors and an internal partition for privacy. We wanted to bridge the gap between emergency shelter-like tents and newly reconstructed homes. It was a huge challenge which demonstrated that no matter how much money there is, you still need knowledge, leadership and expertise. The award recognised my contribution but also the partnership between the private sector, the UNHCR and the Sri Lankan Government." In six months 60,000 shelters were put up.
Jo is a trustee of Engineers Without Borders an organisation that encourages young engineers to participate in overseas development.
For more information on the British Expertise awards visit their website: http://www.britishexpertise.org/
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