Deborah’s Blog: Getting Geared Up – April 2017

The rains are coming to an end which means we’re tantalisingly close to the 2017 build season. There’s a lot of work to do before it gets here though!

Project management – got to love a good spreadsheet
My work recently has been mostly office based (ie excel based). We’re working up detailed material quantities and programs for the 2017 building work, meticulously planning for each stage of construction. This is all part of Build It’s project management systems which help us to ensure that we complete works to standard, on time and within budget.

The wonderful Sheila, who put in place all Build It’s project management systems, came out to Zambia in March to provide intensive training to the Zambian based staff. The training for me and the site agents tied in closely with training for the finance team, the procurement team and the training team (yes, the training manager receives management training – I hope you’re following this!). This means that we all work together as one Build It, and implement efficient management across all our sites.



Learning a load of rubbish?
Whilst on the subject of learning, I also recently took part in a morning’s workshop on waste management, led by chair of the Zambian trustees and waste expert, Rueben Lifuka. It was really motivating to build up our knowledge of waste management and to brainstorm how we can deal with site waste in an environmentally friendly manner.

There’s a lot of incentive to reuse and up-cycle materials here, and Lusaka does in fact have some recycling facilities although the up take is much smaller than in the UK. We’re hoping the use the Centre for Excellence to showcase good practice, to educate about the reduce-reuse-recycle hierarchy and to avoid contributing to the local somewhat mismanaged “landfill”.

Centre for Excellence in Action
The waste management workshop was held at the recently completed Low income House at the Centre for Excellence, which has been temporarily converted into an office for Build It staff. Daniel and Erica are already settling in.

The first Learning Plaza is now also complete and in use! Last week saw the inductions for Build It’s first ever intake of “fast track” trainees. It’s great to see the transition of the Centre for Excellence from a construction site to a training centre in action; it somehow feels alive and kicking.

I had a good chat with a couple of the new trainees – Fostina and Mwabi. It’s inspirational to see women signing up for the training that Build It provides, and striving to crash the stereotypes that exist here and indeed across a lot of the world. Build It is actively encouraging women to join the courses, and make women in construction more of a norm.

It’s certainly feels like everything’s kicking off here at the moment, with the help of all the spreadsheet-ing. Hopefully by next post I’ll be on site once more!