Last month saw the launch of the Regional Studies Association Research Network on Academic-Practitioner Collaboration for Urban Shelter, South Pacific (APCUS-SP) at a cross-sector workshop in Melbourne.
We are excited to extend the invitation to members and participants of the RDI Network to join this growing network, as we seek to bridge the academic-practice divide in development and humanitarian work in the South Pacific.
Bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders, the primary conclusion which emerged from the foundational workshop held in May was that there is untapped knowledge and willingness to help within the academy, along with significant demand from the humanitarian and development sectors for expert support. We believe that linking these two groups will improve practice by combining academics’ deep knowledge and capacity for community engagement, with the implementation expertise and multi-year experience of those on the front lines of humanitarian and development practice.
I have all this knowledge. What I want out of APCUS is for my work to be useful and used.
Ass. Prof. Monica Minnegal, University of Melbourne
APCUS-SP aims to develop channels for sharing knowledge between academic experts, governments, civil-society organisations, humanitarian emergency responders, recovery personnel, and development actors. These groups hold different bodies of knowledge that are rarely shared. Better sharing these bodies of knowledge has the potential to improve all phases of humanitarian and development aid. Our network focuses particularly on urban shelter and settlements. New ways of managing emergencies are needed for cities. We focus on the South Pacific because of the region’s emerging urban experience and vulnerability to disasters.
Urban emergency response is complex, and poor information is a common difficulty for humanitarians, who often lack the information they need to target lifesaving assistance and help put the urban population on a path of long-term recovery. Rapid urbanisation in the Pacific complicates humanitarians’ work in cities. There are moments of opportunity before, during, and after humanitarian emergencies in which academic inputs could enable governments to make better decisions, humanitarian responders to respond more effectively, and civil-society organisations to better advocate for their stakeholders. Some of these moments have been seized; many more are missed. Some ad-hoc networks exist between universities and those at coalface of humanitarian response. However, these are often structured around personal relationships rather than strategically.
The network is still in its formational phase, and your involvement and input to inform our mission and structure are welcomed.
APCUS-SP is now active. Over the next few months, we will hold a series of workshops in Fiji, Vanuatu, and Melbourne. You can find out more and get involved by visiting the website.