Engineers Without Borders '16-'17
About Our Organization
Established in 2002, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an international non-profit humanitarian organization that works to provide basic necessities to communities in need. Lehigh University's student chapter, founded in 2007, focuses on providing Central American communities with access to potable water.
Having previously worked on water distribution systems in both Nicaragua and Honduras, our chapter seeks to replicate this process by implementing a tank and piping system to distribute a dependable supply of water in the community of Cebadilla, Nicaragua.
The Community of Cebadilla
Nicaragua has experienced its worst drought since 1973 over the past few years. Effects of this drought have been magnified in rural, underdeveloped communities like Cebadilla. When Lehigh’s chapter first started working in Cebadilla, there were only two hand-dug wells that had dried up due to the continued late onset of the rainy season year after year. As a result, the mayor’s office of San Juan del Sur had been delivering water to the well-site as often as a few times per week; however, sometimes deliveries were late and simply unreliable. The mayor’s office also drilled a deep well; however, it was not attached to any mechanism that would allow community members easy access to water as the well was far away from all points of consumption. Currently, Lehigh’s chapter is in the middle of the implementation phase of a water distribution system that would allow the 250 community members to have year-round access to potable water.
In addition to issues of water availability, outhouses with poor sanitation pollute the groundwater which supplies the current hand-dug wells. Access to a deep well will eliminate this problem, allowing members of the community to get back to their daily lives. Furthermore, the women and children of the community spend at least two hours a day walking to and from their homes getting water. By creating an extensive distribution system, the amount of time spent collecting water will be significantly reduced and used for other ventures, such as education. In summary, this project will increase quality of life in the community.
Assessment trips in January and August of 2015 and January of 2016 served to develop and cement our relationship with the community, and to prepare for construction. A deep well was also drilled in mid-July 2015 by the Mayor's office of San Juan del Sur. An implementation trip in August of 2016 allowed for the installment of the tank and part of the water distribution system. Next, the chapter hopes to travel to Nicaragua in January of 2017 to finish the distribution system and start training about maintenance of the system. In addition, in order to ensure sustainability of the project, yearly trips will be made to the community for the next 5 years in order to check-up and address any problems that may arise.
After This Project?
This is a very exciting time for Lehigh EWB since our water distribution system in Nicaragua is almost complete. The club is currently trying to decide which program and which project to pursue in the near future. Should we continue projects in Cebadilla, in the San Juan del Sur area of Nicaragua or in other parts of the country? Or should we try to start over at a new location and seek guidance of other professors or opportunities that we have not been able to pursue since we have been focused on Nicaragua for the past few years.
If you would like to share any input regarding the questions above, please contact the EWB Fundraising Chair (see Additional Information).
From PVC piping to water storage tanks, funding will be used to purchase all the materials necessary for the tank and distribution system. In addition, funding will also help cover some travel costs that will allow an invaluable experiential learning experience for current Lehigh engineering students.
While Lehigh University’s chapter of EWB has made great strides in the field of water distribution systems, we are dependent on outside sources of funding. The ultimate goal of the projects is not just to provide access to potable water, but to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve. In achieving this, we also provide students a hands-on application of their engineering and sustainability education. Unfortunately, this goal comes with a price tag. As such, donations of all sizes are welcomed and appreciated. Any amount of funding helps the chapter to expand its reach and have a greater positive impact on those less fortunate.
For more information on EWB-USA, visit http://www.ewb-usa.org/
To learn more about Lehigh University's student chapter of EWB, https://ewb.web.lehigh.edu/
Any additional questions can be addressed to Lehigh EWB's fundraising chair: Priyokti Rana, at email@example.com