As of Wednesday, June 6th, EWB has had its 10th birthday! Ten years of commitment to the application of engineering principles to raise the living standards of the world’s poorest.
Today is a great day to remember how far this group has come. The dedication of all of the EWB members has resulted in the betterment of 2.3 millions lives in 48 countries! Many lives have been improved as a result of EWB’s dedication. It’s great to say that the existence of this group and the commitment of these members has actually made a visible impact.
Today should also be a day to look at the present and the future, and to answer the questions that arise. What are we working on right now? How can these projects and implementations be made better? In what other ways can we help to make a difference? What are our plans from the future? Where do we go from here? Being complacent is not an option. Already, this group has come so far. This needs to continue so that we can continue to make an impact.
Here’s what you need to know about the Live Below the Line Challenge:
You have 5 days – March 7th to March 11th.
You have $1.50 per day to feed yourself.
Join the EWB-BU team this year as we try to Live Below the Line! 1.4 billion of the world’s population lives on less that $1.25 per day, in extreme poverty. Many people are suffering as a result and should not be allowed to continue. That’s where Live Below the Line comes in.
Live Below the Line is a fundraising campaign to raise awareness of the difficulties people face when living in extreme poverty, when sustenance is hard to come by. This is done by challenging people in developed countries to live under the same conditions (eating less than $1.25 worth of food per day).
“To really tackle extreme poverty, we’ve got to try to understand it – and what better way than by spending just a few days living below the poverty line.” We often hear that most of the world lives in unimaginably difficult conditions, but this information is not realized until it has been experienced. It’s easy to sympathize, but it’s harder to empathize. And only when that empathy has been realized can one truly just begin to grasp the severity of the problems that 1.4 billion of the world’s population have to contend with.
If you’re interested in joining, please do! There needs to be greater awareness and movement toward the eradication of extreme poverty around the world. Click on the second link to sign up for the EWB-BU team! For more information, click on any of the following links:
Today is World Water Day! It is important to take a moment today to recognize the great need in this world for water. In countries such as the US, access to clean drinking water is not a problem. However, it can be one of the main concerns for survival in less fortunate countries. Life without easy access to water is difficult one because of the many uses it has in our everyday lives. Bathing, cooking, cleaning – water is necessary for all of these things, among many others. Hygiene and good sustenance is difficult to obtain. We depend heavily on water directly and indirectly (e.g. its use in the manufacture of many of the products we use) for many things. For more information about how we depend on water, click on the following link: http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Topics/Development/Water-Water-Hardly-Everywhere.
Access to clean drinking water is not readily available in poorer countries due to a variety of reasons, especially in rural areas. In Zambia, for example, only about 60% of the population has access to an improved water supply (http://www.nwasco.org.zm/pdfs/sectorreport2010-11.pdf). The situation is complicated by seasonal changes. While a long-term solution is needed, obviously, as a solution to this problem, there have been many simple technologies that have been implemented in the meantime in an effort to get better access to clean water, such as:
There are many available methods to help get easier access to clean drinking water. Why, then, is it still a problem? Water is a necessity for survival; it is a very basic need. It’s a shame that even though the means to obtain clean water are available, not everyone is able to gain access. Learn more about the problem and ways you can help at: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/.
The BU Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is looking into the possible implementation a water filtration system in Zambia this year, and we’re glad for World Water Day because it has certainly opened our eyes to the need for water in the world. Please let us know if you’d like to become involved in our project!
Hello everyone! Hopefully everyone has had a lovely spring break and are looking forward to the next couple of months before summer vacation.
In recent news, check out the blog posts of Professor Muhammad Zaman, advisor to our BU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, on The Huffington Post! With titles such as “Make Development Part of the Equation” and “Engineering a Healthy Tomorrow for the Poorest Billions,” Zaman looks at the greater context of engineering in today’s world and the impact it can have on the lives of billions in the future. It’s incredible, he says, that engineering has led to such technological innovations and accomplishments already, such as “sending the man on the moon and building bridges and buildings that defy imagination.” Hopefully, continued imagination and creativity and hard work on the part of global engineers can continue this trend, with the focus of using engineering to better the lives of those in the poorest countries. While in recent years engineering programs have seen a decline in the number of applicants and interested individuals, this field has enormous implications for the future.
With the world’s population over 7 billion people and growing at an exponential rate (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/7-billion), efforts must be made so that the poorest regions in the world are not held back, or regress, due to a disparity in resources and innovation and education, but instead are encouraged to progress and create the foundation for a healthy and sustainable future by investing in education and innovation. It is imperative that the conditions today in the poorest countries – including a lack of proper infrastructure, inadequate health services, etc. – not set the tone for the future. As Zaman says, “gone are the days when we accepted disease, suffering and poverty as the common lot of the poor.” It is no longer acceptable to simply sit back on our laurels when there are issues that can be acted upon and situations that need to be changed. It’s not an option to let such suffering continue. And engineers play a big part in ensuring that this idea of growth and progress, even in the poorest of countries, come to fruition in the future. Ultimately, everyone benefits from this investment in the future. “The creation of new knowledge and new paradigms to address the global problems will inevitable lead to discovery of new, cheaper and robust design criteria that will have an impact on all societies, including ours, here in the US.”
And this is something that the BU chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working on. We hope that our project in Zambia, in partnership with the Center for Global Health and Development (CGHD) and the Zambia Center for Applied Health Research and Development (ZCAHRD), will help to contribute toward alleviating the current situation with HIV test results. For more information on our project, click the following link: http://people.bu.edu/ewbexec/Projects.html.
Check out our new website for the EWB-BU Student Chapter! It’s got the most recent information on our events and projects, such as our work with CGHD (Center for Global Health and Development) and the Zambia Center for Applied Health Research and Development (ZCAHRD) in addition to details about our upcoming Marshmallow Challenge for E-Week!
On our new website, you can get updates from our Facebook page, this blog, among many other things. We’ve also set up a donation link! Looking to get involved with EWB-BU? Look into our Contact Information and shoot us an e-mail! We’ll be looking to add to the site a lot more in the future, so be sure to give us your feedback! Our brand new website, courtesy of our Webmaster Alan Pacheco, can be used in the future, with our Facebook page and our blog, to get information about our group. Be sure to stop by!
Here at EWB-Boston University, we’ve been hard at work adding new materials to help train our future officers, write grant proposals, and assemble records of our research. We’re getting geared up to start another semester, and our first general meeting will be in two days on Sunday, January 22 at 12:30 pm in CAS 204A. We’ll be discussing our next steps with funding, travel, and elections. We’re most excited for elections!
We’re hosting our elections for the 2012-13 school year on Sunday, January 29 and we’ll start our transition program right after our candidates hash it out with some inspired speeches! From discussions with our MCN partners and other EWB chapters, leadership transition is one of the must critical and difficult pieces of being a successful student organization. Transferring knowledge and skills is a mix of resources, mentorship, and practice. Some of the documents we’ve created to help our new officers discuss everything from “How to Run a Meeting” to “How to Silent Auction”.
Another big piece of our spring semester plans include formally introducing our technical advisors to our current research on cell phone signal amplification. Part of this will be aided by the records we’ve been generating over the break, and face-to-face discussion amongst our officers and research teams. Hopefully, the most important lessons learned will be highlighted and explored further as we invite our advisors’ expertise into the conversation.
At Boston University, we’ve been busily working on getting our program approved in Zambia, and were fortunate enough to overcome a setback when the EWB Assessment Review Committee (ARC) initially rejected our 501-New Program Application. This is not unusual, according to a contact in the EWB-Boston Professional Chapter. However, it was more than difficult to see months of hard work rejected.
Thankfully, we were able to talk to Dave Sacco, an ARC and TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) reviewer. He offered some great insight into how to successfully appeal and apply for our Program in Zambia. Thanks to Dave’s help, we were approved to open our program! Here are some of the things we learned from his short seminar:
A program is a chapter’s overarching commitment to collaboration between the chapter and community for the minimum 5 years required by EWB-USA. In comparison, a project is a small piece within a program. Projects are implemented to address the needs identified by the community.
While the distinction between these two things is relatively fine, it’s important to recognize their unique identity. There may be many projects you could implement that pertain to the program’s theme. In our case, we’re looking to focus on community health. As a part of this program, we could implement a water filtration project, a sanitation project, or the cell phone amplification project we’ve been looking at. Allowing for this type of flexibility allows EWB chapters to approach the needs of the community holistically.
When filling out your initial New Program application, you shouldn’t have all the answers or solutions. This is a red flag for ARC reviewers that you have too many preconceptions as you enter into this program.
While it can be difficult to respond to the questions the 501 may ask because it seems to want explicit answers or details, Mr. Sacco stated that ambiguity should be expected during these first steps. You haven’t, in theory, been on the ground and met your community face-to-face, yet. If anything, you may have some prospective leads on projects, but these projects cannot be successfully implemented or approved until you have gathered primary evidence and data about what the community needs and the best way to sustainably implement a solution.
In our past program in Peru, we experienced a great example of this. The community, during initial contact, discussed a desire for electricity. Based on the information our chapter had received, it seemed like solar panels would fit their needs. However, on the assessment trip, it became clear that while they could benefit from electricity, they were dying from contaminated water. From this, a new plan of action was charted to find a way to purify their water sources. Only once we had been on-site were we able to obtain a complete picture of what our community was dealing with and how to prioritize potential projects.
Make sure your community and partnering NGO are clear on who owns the projects and who ought to be the primary beneficiaries.
Although it may seem obvious, Dave Sacco reminded the seminar attendees to be clear during your discussion with partner NGOs, the government, and community leaders that your purpose as an EWB chapter is to collaboratively implement projects that address the needs the community faces. This means that the primary motivation for your work is always the community–not the NGO, not the government–the community. If this is not obvious in from your New Program application, it will not be approved by EWB.
Now that the New Year has just begun, EWB-USA will be implementing a new system to open New Programs. Now, the community or partner NGO must submit the 501 and the EWB chapter must adopt it by filling out a different form, the 502. By doing this, EWB-USA hopes to engage communities and NGOs that are invested in collaboration and actively seeking solutions. According to Dave Sacco, it seemed that EWB chapters have struggled in the past to successfully screen communities that would successfully work with the chapter. By changing the New Program application structure, hopefully, more chapters will enjoy successful and fulfilling programs with partnering communities.
Poverty tourism. It’s one of the biggest concerns we have as an organization. Cathy Leslie, the EWB-USA Director, specifically addressed it in her Annual update, and we felt it was fitting to kick off the series on the topic. So, what exactly does this term mean? It has a few layers but in a quick sentence, it’s when people visit impoverished communities and, usually, drop off ‘solutions, snap some photos with locals, and leave..never to be heard from again.
For EWB, we do not accept this system. We cannot accept being tourists. We must be engaged, committed, and honest in our intentions and efforts. How else can we expect to make change? How else can we expect communities to have hope? Cathy Leslie reminded us that this is what we’re striving to attain–a sustainable and lasting impact. As an EWB chapter, we reside in the “big picture”.
For our own budding program in Zambia, we’re still learning. For a lot of us, this is our first attempts to really step into the arena of global development in a working relationship. As an Executive Team, we’re trying to relay that distinction between international development and poverty tourism to our members. Because even if they drift away or never do anything related to EWB after college, they’ll still have that exposure to the complexities folded into the work of development groups.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our short series featuring some of the awesome speakers we heard from at the Millennium Campus Conference. After returning from the conference energized and inspired, we’re now busily working on our 7th Annual Silent Auction Reception for Thursday, October 27 6:00-8:30 pm. As our main fundraising event, we invite faculty, alumni, and our peers to support our work by bidding on items while they chat over appetizers and drinks. Our advisor, Professor Muhammad Zaman, will be introducing our work in Zambia in a short presentation.
Like any event, the majority of the details are finalized in the last 3 weeks. As of Thursday, we passed the 2 week mark. A catering menu has been submitted, floor plans designed, and a flurry of advertisement activity. Perhaps the most nerve-wracking piece of the auction is awaiting the arrival of donation items. We’ve been steadily adding to our inventory, but we’re making a last push to contact our local businesses in an effort to win their support. Oh, we fear rejection just like any preteen trying to arrange their first date—excuse our poor analogy, but we are engineers!
However, whether or not we make a million dollars or fifty dollars, we’re really just glad to organize an event to celebrate the work we’re doing and raise awareness of the role engineers have to play in global development. Although…we would definitely be more than happy to take that million dollars. That’s not greedy, right?
We hope to see all of our supporters there, and if you’re interested in attending email us at email@example.com.
Late start this morning. After breakfast, we read over the plans for the improved kitchens and continued to work on calculating elevation points and drawing a preliminary map of the town. We are planning on spending some time this week looking at examples of improved kitchen projects that have been built in the area. We may be traveling to Omia to see some kitchens, and there is one that we know of in Chirimoto that we will be looking at later this week.
This afternoon is Lucho’s Cousin’s wedding. We left around 2:00 and started walking towards Pindicucho, another small neighboring town and the bride’s hometown. The ceremony was a small civil matrimony held in the bride’s family’s home. Dinner and dancing followed. We all felt awkward eating dinner with the bride and groom and their immediate families. After dinner, we watched the bride and groom dance with various relatives, and then the cumbia started and the dance floor was opened up to the rest of the guests. We left around 11 with a relative of Lucho’s who was heading back to Chirimoto.