Building partnerships for sustainable and resilient communities
June 28, 2021
June 28, 2021
Engineers Without Borders is working to reduce poverty and inequity around the world. But how?
This story was written in coordination with Christine Broda-Bahm of Engineers Without Borders USA.
As an engineering and architecture company, we have a responsibility to provide safe and sustainable solutions for our communities around the globe. Oftentimes, this means supporting vulnerable populations, particularly in developing nations, where access to resources is limited—or missing entirely. One group that is going above and beyond to help these communities is Engineers Without Borders (EWB).
EWB is an internationally renowned, non-profit organization that seeks to “identify and eliminate the root causes of poverty and inequity.” How? By leveraging the collective power of global engineering knowledge to help impoverished communities that are struggling to access food, water, sanitation, and health services. Their goal? To achieve a world vision where everyone’s basic needs are met so that they can thrive and live to their full potential.
Whether it’s providing clean drinking water, powering communities with sustainable energy solutions, or developing wastewater treatment facilities, EWB is supporting our global community. That’s why Stantec uses its resources to partner with EWB on projects around the world—because we also believe in equity and have strong commitments to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards.
Below, we’ll look at how EWB used innovative solutions to solve unique energy challenges and support communities around the world.
The Nakivale Refugee Settlement is one of the oldest refugee camps in Uganda and one of the largest refugee camps in the world. It is home to more than 120,000 refugees from nearby countries such as Somalia, Rwanda, and Ethiopia—and that number is on the rise with more and more people arriving at the settlement every day. The increase of Nakivale’s population has put additional stress on the region’s water supply, which is already struggling to sustainably serve its residents.
EWB supports the United Nation’s goal of ensuring that everyone has reliable access to clean drinking water by 2030. So, in coordination with the local government and other partners, EWB stepped up to find a sustainable solution to Nakivale’s water woes. This came in the form of a solar pump and storage system, which would convert energy from the sun to pump water from underground reservoirs up to the surface for use. The project also includes a proposed water storage tank.
Whether it’s providing clean drinking water, powering communities with sustainable energy solutions, or developing wastewater treatment facilities, EWB is supporting our global community.
Not only will this solution provide clean drinking water for 70,000 additional residents, it will positively impact the region in several other ways. It helps to mitigate climate change by using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. It increases the community’s resiliency while reducing operation and maintenance costs. And it provides long-term, local job opportunities for Nakivale’s residents.
There are few things better than when a single project can solve several different challenges. And the solar pump and storage system at Nakivale does just that.
The small community of Chipiya, India has traditionally relied on wood to fuel its energy supply. But due to excess deforestation, wood has become a scarce resource in the region. This has left the community pining for ways to provide power for its residents so they can heat their homes and cook meals. So, EWB partnered with the community to construct a biogas plant.
Biogas is a renewable energy source that is produced when organic matter breaks down in a closed system without the presence of oxygen. It can then be processed and used to power vehicles, homes, and even communities. This was a great option because Chipiya has around 700 cows, and the reactor can use manure to produce biogas. The system—which also includes a biogas storage facility—then uses its distribution lines to deliver biogas to homes. The result? Providing over 600 community members with a clean source of cooking fuel and slurry for agricultural use.
Not only will this project provide a clean and renewable energy source for the community of Chipiya, but it will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of agriculture waste at their nearby cow farm.
Another way that EWB is trying to make a global impact: Refrigeration. Refrigeration is key to social and economic development as well as to health and nutrition. It also leads to less food waste, more opportunities for farmers, fewer trips to the market for perishable items, and safe storage for leftovers and life-saving vaccines. But approximately two billion people on the planet live without refrigeration. So, what can we do to solve this global challenge? A Chill Challenge!
Developed by EWB, the Chill Challenge seeks to develop a solution to provide affordable, low-cost refrigeration to people living off the grid in remote communities across the globe. Up to 10 grants between US$25-50K will be awarded to participants to develop prototypes of either a small commercial refrigerator or a community icemaker that is affordable for off-grid communities. The competition is open to companies, university teams, or individual inventors worldwide. How’s it going? EWB is currently reviewing 43 submissions received from 10 different countries!
Refrigeration can improve the quality of life for billions of people in many important ways. But unfortunately, it has largely been an unaffordable option, especially for those that live without access to grid power. Hopefully, through the Chill Challenge, we can spread awareness and help provide refrigeration to people all around the world.
The projects we highlighted throughout this story are just a few examples of the great work that EWB is doing on a global scale. But did you see a common theme? In all the instances noted above, EWB was able to find sustainable solutions for communities facing complex challenges on multiple fronts.
That’s why Stantec will continue to partner with EWB—because they aim to support the basic needs of people while also paving a path to protect the planet. And that’s a game plan that our Company will always support.
Want to learn more about EWB? Contact your local branch for more info!