Engineering and humanitarian intervention: learning from failure

  • Arshad-Ayaz A
  • Naseem M
  • Mohamad D
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.

This artice is free to access.


In this paper, we challenge the belief that failure is necessarily a bad outcome. Instead, we argue that failure—specifically articulated as productive failure—should rather be seen as an educational moment and learning opportunity. Furthermore, we examine the field of humanitarian engineering to argue that the failures of various humanitarian engineering interventions are not necessarily because of flaws in the design process but due to the dominance of the mainstream development discourse, which obscures the importance of local contexts, knowledge, and wisdom. We ground the discussion in the broader context of contemporary development discourses and examine some examples of the failure of engineering and humanitarian assistance/development projects that can be converted into “productive failures” and used as learning opportunities.




Arshad-Ayaz, A., Naseem, M. A., & Mohamad, D. (2020). Engineering and humanitarian intervention: learning from failure. Journal of International Humanitarian Action, 5(1).

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free