In 2015, we opened our first country office in Nicaragua. In 2016, we expanded that field operation to include a second office in an additional region of the country. That same year, we opened a country office in Guatemala.

Our growing field operations evidence our commitment to using learning to constantly improve and scale our impact in communities. Findings from our impact analysis consistently show that a permanent country office presence improves the quality, efficiency, sustainability and cost management of our projects.

EWB-USA country office staff provide invaluable assistance in helping to make connections with communities requesting our partnership and providing crucial cultural training about our partners. Relationship management will get better and better, and so will project outcomes. By increasing our reliance on our staff experts in the field, projects will experience more accurate and better quality needs assessments, closer management on the delivery of high-quality and timely assistance, and a much more cost-effective use of resources.

The expansion is far from over! By the end of 2020, EWB-USA plans to have country offices operating in five countries.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua is often referred to as the land of lagoons and volcanoes, but these striking scenes overlay a country that struggles to meet its potential. Despite having a wealth of natural resources, it is the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Challenges to development in this country that struggles with food security include deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution.

In addition to the factors identified by global development indices, Nicaragua was chosen as EWB-USA’s first location for a permanent country presence because: community needs align with our sectors of expertise; it’s a safe environment for foreign volunteers; and we have a lengthy history of successful project work in two regions of the country.

EWB-USA is currently building local capacity through two offices. One office is located in San Isidro, Matagalpa, where we support programs in the northern region, including the departments of Esteli, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Madriz and Nueva Segovia. A second office is in the capital, Managua, where we provide support to the southern departments of Managua, Carazo, Boaco, Granada, Masaya and Rivas. Additionally, we have a small number of projects in other departments, with 11 out of 15 departments having at least one active project with EWB-USA.

We are currently partnering on 42 projects in Nicaragua, with 25 of those being water projects. The combined estimated reach of these projects is 100,000 beneficiaries. We anticipate growing requests to support water, sanitation and infrastructure projects, and we’re actively seeking opportunities to engage in projects that empower Nicaragua’s most underserved communities to meet their basic human needs. Follow projects’ progress and see updates from the field on our Facebook page.

For additional information on working with EWB-USA’s Nicaragua field operation, contact admin.nicaragua@ewb-usa.org.

Guatemala

Guatemala is rich in culture and natural beauty, but faces many infrastructure challenges that keep communities from living healthy, productive lives. The country’s rating on the United Nation’s Human Development Index, which reflects standard of living and quality of life, is the third lowest in Latin America. Those living in rural Guatemala are affected the most by the country’s underdevelopment, with water coverage 26 percent lower and access to adequate sanitation infrastructure 29 percent lower than the country’s urban areas. Road density by population, which is classified by the World Bank as medium to high throughout the southern half of the country, is classified as low throughout nearly the entire northern half of the country.

These statistics point to some of the most critical infrastructure needs in Guatemala that EWB-USA is working to resolve: potable water, sanitation, access, and educational infrastructure. We focus on addressing these needs through two offices in Guatemala. The central office in La Esperanza, Quetzaltenango, serves projects in the departments of Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, Sololá, Suchitepéquez y Totonicapán. A second office in Joyabaj, Quiché, serves projects in the southern part of the department of Quiché and the northern part of Chimaltenango. We are also working with local NGO partners to support projects in the northern part of the department of Quiché. In the coming years, we hope to expand our coverage to other vulnerable parts of the country such as Huehuetenango, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz and Santa Rosa.

EWB-USA currently works with communities on more than 60 projects in Guatemala, with a combined estimated reach of 125,000 beneficiaries. The Engineering Service Corps is also making a big impact in Guatemala, with five projects tackling access, potable water, education infrastructure and energy underway in 2018. You can learn more about how our engineering projects are improving Guatemalan lives in the story of El Cantil, the recently completed vehicular bridge that brought safe passage to 13 Guatemalan communities. Follow the progress of our other projects on our Facebook page.

For additional information on working with EWB-USA’s Guatemala field operation, contact info.guatemala@ewb-usa.org.

Uganda

Considered the “Switzerland of Africa”, Uganda is as beautiful as it is diverse, from the snow-capped mountains of Rwenzori in the west to the desert landscape of the north-east. Uganda boasts rainforests, and wetlands, mountains and savannah, wildlife and tribal diversity. Embedded within its population of 43 million are 56 different tribes and 43 living languages. Of these, the largest groups are the Buganda (central region) and the ethnic groupings of the Bantu (southern) and Nilotic (northern). English is the official language with both Luganda and Swahili are widely spoken.

Landlocked, Uganda borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The country boasts magnificent scenery and wildlife including the Mountain Gorillas of the south. The country is fertile and presents enormous opportunity for agricultural wealth and prosperity. Yet, Uganda remains on the highly indebted nations list, with minimal growth in GDP and recent decline in GNI. Unemployment stands at above 30% and a population growth steady at 3%. With nearly 70% of the population aged under 35, Uganda is the second youngest nation in the world, while 52% live in poverty. Given the statistics, there remains a high demand for development interventions.

EWB-USA has been present in Uganda since 2005, with numerous programs and community partnerships. It was this blend of existing presence with high opportunity for a lasting impact through the provision of engineering expertise aimed at increasing local capacity long-term that EWB-USA chose to open its first Country Office on the African continent in Uganda in 2019.

The Uganda Country Office, located in Kampala, has strengthened its existing community programs and continue to build important linkages with communities across Uganda. In addition, the team has developed strong relationships with local ministries and international development organizations and is providing essential services and developing technical and engineering capacity at a national level with our partners.

For additional information on working with EWB-USA’s Uganda field operation, contact info.uganda@ewb-usa.org and be sure to follow us on our Facebook page.