PennEWB’s foreign involvement is a mutually beneficial process. Partner communities are provided with needed assistance to improve quality of life and plan for their future. Students are exposed to new cultures, obtain experience planning and implementing an engineering project, and are made aware of outstanding engineering challenges in developing communities.
For applications and more information on how to join, please review Our Guidelines.
Pajomel, Guatemala: 2010-2013
Irrigation and Latrine Systems
Pajomel is a farming village located above Lake Atitlan in Sololá, Guatemala. In August 2011, the chapter started its involvement in the community with an irrigation project that provided irrigation capabilities to several village farmers. After the irrigation implementation trip, the need for latrines was brought to our attention by community members and Ati’t Ala’, our local partner NGO. There are currently 85 families in Pajomel. Most have dilapidated latrines and some have no latrines at all. In our two implementation trips since, we have worked with the community to construct numerous latrines with a goal of providing a latrine for every family by 2015. Our help will not only improve their standard of living but also decrease health problems. Appointed health officers in Pajomel have identified many health issues that point to poor sanitation and Penn EWB has implemented a multitude of health curricula in the school. The work Penn EWB can do in the village will give the people there what we consider the just the basics of a bathroom. But for families in Pajomel, it is a source of so many problems that our project can solve.
Bome Valley, Cameroon: 2007-2013
Since 2007, Penn EWB has been involved in the Bome Valley of Cameroon. The chapter has implemented four successful projects in the region. The first two projects involved building water catchment and piping systems in the villages of Kob/Tudig and Gundom. The chapter then implemented a latrine sanitation project in 2011 with local schools in the town of Mbengwi followed by a water rehabilitation project in 2013.
Bome Valley, Cameroon: 2012-2013
Headworks Rehabilitation Project
In the summer of 2013, the chapter worked on a water rehabilitation project with various villages in the Bome Valley region of Cameroon. After traveling on two assessment trips, the chapter identified an inexpensive and community driven project to improve the head works of an existing water system that supplies water to over 2,000 people. Students, chapter mentors, and community members converted an unused slow sand filter into a storage basin, reinforced two water catchments to improve water quality, and created additional access hatches in sedimentation basins to improve ease of maintenance. Over the course of two weeks, the team was able to build significant infrastructure and reduce the amount of bacteria present in the water samples. The team also conducted health surveys with women’s groups and maintenance training with representatives of a newly established water committee. Penn EWB has had a great relationship with communities in the Bome Valley by focusing on sustainable, community driven water and sanitation projects.
Gundom, Cameroon: 2008-2009
Water Distribution System
In the summer of 2009, PennEWB implemented a water distribution project in the village of Gundom, a small village of approximately 30 households located in the Bome Valley in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. Based on a 2007 survey done by the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, only 32% of the drinking water sources were protected and there was no piped water source. The average household spent 52 minutes a day getting drinking water each day. The small size, active community, and immense need for a new water distribution system made Gundom the best village to work with. Our team was able to construct two spring protection and distribution systems, one at the Chenam (lower) spring site and another at the Fon (chief) spring site. The Chenam system consists of a spring protection box and a gravity-fed water distribution system that services 14 households. The Fon system, which must first pump the water uphill, consists of a storage tank, hand-pump, and a distribution tank. The Fon system provides clean water to 4 stand pipes located throughout the village. PennEWB team members were also able to prepare and present skits to residents about hygiene and sanitation in order to ensure proper water use and healthier habits.
Kob, Cameroon: 2007-2008
Gravity Fed Water Distribution System
In 2007, PennEWB expanded their outreach to a new region in Cameroon. The village of Kob expressed a need for a water distribution system to supply clean water to households in the area as well as to a local health center, church and nursery school. The PennEWB team, consisting of 12 students and 2 professional mentors, traveled in January 2008 to implement a newly designed water system. The project consisted of the excavation and protection of two spring sources, installation of pipelines through critical areas, and initial construction of two storage tanks. Village members were provided the supplies to finish construction after the team left.
Terreritos, Honduras: 2006-2007
Pit Latrines and Water Distribution
PennEWB returned to Terreritos to assist in the initiation of a latrine program and to attend the official inauguration of the water system. The team broke into workgroups to help individual families construct latrines based upon a government design in common use in theregion. Upon departing this group also worked with the local Patranato (community council) to arrange a system for the remaining families to receive materials and any assistance necessary by skilled community members such as masons in completing construction of a latrine.
Prior to 1995, the community extracted their required daily water from small and sparse wells and springs located on the outskirts of the community. As many of these wells ran dry, the supply proved insufficient for the 25 families that lived in the town at that time. In 1995, the community obtained the support to install a water system at a spring located two kilometers away. At the time, this system met the needs of the community. However, the population has since grown significantly, bringing the total number of homes to 46. As a result the water system was no longer sufficient. The lack of a proper water system led to problems of health, hygiene and diet in the community. The villagers of Terreritos, Honduras, were lacking a sufficient amount of clean water to meet their basic needs. Additionally, as of 2006, fewer than ten households had access to a latrine. This condition further contributed to health and hygiene related problems.
For applications and more information on how to join, please review Our Guidelines