EWB-USA partners with highly motivated and self-organized communities. Projects are owned by the partner communities or organization.
EWB-USA’s approach to community partnerships is woven throughout our principles of development and program criteria. We believe that all EWB-USA projects must be community-driven, appropriate within the context of the community, and sustainable.
Understanding the culture of your partner community and being aware of your own cultural perspective will support your ability to work effectively with community partners. Find guidance on cultural understanding in the resource library >>
Learn more about our approach to partnerships:
Community Partnerships in EWB-USA’s International Community Programs
International Community Programs (ICP) rely on a three-way partnership between EWB-USA, the community represented by a community-based organization (CBO), and a local partnering organization such as a non-governmental organization (NGO) or local government. We highly recommend engaging both a local NGO and the local government. Learn more about common project partner roles and responsibilities in EWB-USA’s International Community Programs.
Sustainability within the context of EWB-USA’s work refers to the capacity of a project to endure. EWB-USA’s ten principles of development state that each project must consider the long-term availability of financial, administrative, technical, labor and material resources in order to be truly sustainable. Planning for long-term sustainability needs to be embedded in our planning from the very beginning.
Use these resources to guide your project team’s planning for sustainability:
- Program Sustainability (webinar)
- Sustainability on Assessment Trips (webinar)
- Lessons Learned in Sustainability on EWB-USA Projects
- Participatory Assessment Training with Village Earth
Community ownership is critical to the ability of an EWB-USA projects to endure long-term. EWB-USA’s process and policies are built around recognized methods for cultivating, encouraging and verifying a sense of ownership by our community partners.
All EWB-USA projects are designed to meet a need identified by the community as their top priority. The community is engaged throughout the design process, including learning from our partners about commonly used materials, culturally appropriate solutions and selecting the final design approach together.
A formalized agreement is set up between all partners before work on the project begins. The agreement sets expectations and confirms each partner’s role. For EWB-USA’s International Community Programs, two agreements are completed for each project: the Community Agreement – Project Partnership and the Community Agreement – Implementation.
EWB-USA partner communities contribute both in-kind and financial resources to EWB-USA projects. Learn more about EWB-USA’s community cash contribution requirement:
- Summary Paper: Importance of Cash Contribution on Sustainability of International Development Projects
- Community Cash Contribution FAQ
Operation & Maintenance
As the owners of the project, the community is responsible for operating and maintaining the system long-term. EWB-USA project teams equip community partners to operate and maintain the system long-term by involving them in the construction, hands-on training, and operation and maintenance manuals. Additional tips on operation & maintenance planning >>
Community Partnerships in the Community Engineering Corps
All Community Engineering Corps (CE Corps) project teams work closely with their partner communities. The partnership is formalized through an engineering services agreement with the community. On a project-by-project basis, additional partners may be necessary to complete the project. Other partners may include technical experts (e.g., architects and geotechnical engineers), governmental regulators (e.g., county or state government) or partner NGOs that provide assistance such as cultural competency. The role of all the partners will vary according to the needs of the project and will be described in the CE Corps 543 – Work Plan. Learn more about the CE Corps project process >>
The CE Corps only provides engineering services. The community is not expected to contribute financially to the costs of those engineering services. However, the community is expected to pay the cost of any ancillary fees related to engineering, such as review fees assessed by a government agency. If the project includes construction of facilities, the community will be 100% responsible for the capital construction cost of the facilities.
Community Partnerships in the Engineering Service Corps
The Engineering Service Corps (ESC) addresses community partnerships differently than our ICP or CE Corps programs. The ESC serves communities through clients (e.g., the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or King’s College London) rather than partnering directly with communities. These organizations in the international development sector reach out to EWB-USA because they are seeking the expertise of our highly-skilled members for short-term, pre-determined projects. Because ESC work is project-based rather than program-based, we rely on our clients to have strong community connections that ensure projects are community-driven and appropriate.
Similar to the CE Corps, the partnership is formalized through an engineering services agreement with the client. The client typically covers costs associated with the project, though the community may also give financial or in-kind contributions.