The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in a significant loss of lives and livelihoods. As we pull together and plan to move forwards from recent events, experts believe there is a significant opportunity to address Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). In the reallocation of national resources to protect lives, and reduce the overall health and economic impacts of the virus, experts believe that through targeted investment in infrastructures we can continue our efforts to design a more sustainable future.
In low-income countries, just short of one billion citizens live in slums or other areas characterised by high-density populations, little access to basic human services, and below-standard environmental conditions. Social distancing at, for example, communal toilets or public water points, becomes impossible. Limited phone networks and electricity also means that the impact of online public health campaigns is stunted. The overall effect, therefore, is that the spread of COVID-19 is much more likely to occur.
This is where a new generation of civil engineers are required; engineers who are able to develop high-quality, low-cost, nature-appropriate and contextual infrastructure for these low-income areas. Further examples of worked solutions include networked water and sanitation systems, and the redesigns of waste management routes.
With an ultimate goal of increasing investment and finance allocation to infrastructure, whilst simultaneously improving governance in these regions, this new generation of civil engineers will be required to work directly with key stakeholders, whilst exploring and implementing efficient, creative and mixed-design solutions.