Meeting Basic Human Needs

There’s no “one size fits all” solution for a community’s water, sanitation and other basic needs. A water supply solution for one community in Kenya may look drastically different than a water supply solution for another community only a few kilometers away. The geographic, cultural and political fabric of each community we partner with is unique, which is why the engineering solutions are unique, too. We consider each of these variables alongside the community to make sure the project is built to last.

Community-Driven Development Projects

The hands-on engineering work occurs at the project level. The scope of these projects is diverse, ranging from the construction of a road in El Salvador to the implementation of water-efficient latrines in Cameroon. These six project types aim to holistically address the breadth of a community’s needs:

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Water Supply

Water supply projects provide the source, storage, distribution and treatment of water for communities. Projects include wells, biosand filters, rainwater catchment systems and other solutions, depending on the community’s needs.

In Bungwe, Rwanda, insufficient infrastructure and high population growth hamper the community’s ability to access clean water for domestic and agricultural use. EWB-USA assessed the existing water supply system and began designing alternative solutions. Household rainwater harvesting systems were implemented to provide an estimated 5,250 people with an additional source of water.

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Civil Works

Civil works projects include roads, drainage, dams, erosion control and solid waste management.

The people of Las Pilitas, El Salvador, now traverse a new road that paves the way to the more resourced area of the main town where they can access educational and economic opportunities. The community worked alongside EWB-USA to remove car-sized boulders from the steep ravine that would become their road. Construction was completed and the road is now fully functional.

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Sanitation projects provide sustainable waste solutions for communities, including latrines and gray and black water systems.

The Native American community in Black Mesa, Arizona, suffers from a low standard of living, which is exacerbated by few water resources and poor sanitation conditions. EWB-USA is partnering with the community to preserve water resources by designing a water-efficient toilet and sit-down shower that fits the community’s sanitation needs.

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Agriculture projects improve farming and production capabilities for communities. Projects range from irrigation systems to harvest processing.

The 209 families of the Tierra Nueva, San Jose and Nueva Esperanza communities in Nicaragua focus on growing, diversifying and marketing their crops to pay back land loans and become land-owners. EWB-USA partnered with the community to assess the growers’ identified needs and implement a wastewater treatment system that supports the community’s new coffee-processing wet mill.

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Energy projects provide consistent, sustainable energy for communities, focusing on fuels (biofuels or cookstoves) and electricity (solar, water or grid power).

Government-provided diesel generators could not meet the basic energy demands of the Symbiosis School in Rampur, India, so EWB-USA installed a sustainable alternative energy source: solar panels. The team inspected the installed solar panels and analyzed their safety and effectiveness in August 2013. While this project is being monitored, the viability of a similar project in a neighboring school is being assessed.

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Structures projects, such as bridges and buildings, help build stable, strong foundations so communities can safely access healthcare, economic opportunities and education.

EWB-USA is reconstructing a storm-damaged schoolhouse that serves more than 400 students in Hedome, Togo, and its neighboring rural villages. When the four-phase project is complete the facility will include four classrooms, a library and three offices.

Consulting Services: Engineering Service Corps

EWB-USA’s Engineering Service Corps offers the expertise of our most seasoned volunteers to organizations in the international development sector. The Engineering Service Corps performs a variety of services, including engineering studies, owner’s representation, planning, design, and monitoring and evaluation.

We collaborate with NGOs and governments who use a community-driven approach and who lack access to the resources needed to design sustainable and appropriate solutions to engineering challenges. The Engineering Service Corps volunteer(s) will work as an integral part of the client’s team in order to balance the technical challenges with sustainable solutions that are appropriate within the context of the client agency, the communities and the broader environment.

Learn more about the Engineering Service Corps >>