On 13th July I hope to be travelling to Benin, a country between Nigeria and Togo in West Africa on a mission to alleviate the suffering resulting from a severe lack of clean water.
I am to travel with two fellow students from the University of Bristol, on the behalf of a team of engineering students from Engineers without Borders. Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a registered charity which works with partner organisations to support people to use engineering to alleviate poverty.
We are travelling with an NGO called OAN International, using our engineering expertise to tackle the dangerous water supply problem in the small city of Nikki. OAN international is a charity with a long term development plan for the city in northern Benin and they asked the EWB Bristol water team to develop a solution to their water shortage during the winter (dry) months. We have formed partnerships with the local hospital, school and SIM Training Centre, all with water problems. Since word has got around about our visit, we have been invited to a number of other sites by other organisations.
I have worked on the water team for two years now, and led the design of a rainwater harvesting system which we hope will be appropriate for some of the sites we intend to investigate on the trip. Rainwater harvesting is a very simple and economic method which we have researched extensively. Experts at the university have verified out ideas and will be available to advise us if necessary.
The team will be mapping water flow, assessing use, quality and redundancy in local supply systems, and exploring their cultural attitudes towards water. By building a strong relationship with the local community we hope to better understand their needs with a view to improving our designs and overseeing the building work carried out next summer.
Many people die across Benin each year from dehydration and water-borne diseases. Schools in Nikki have huge problems with sick children. A clean water supply is essential to the life, health and development, and using some well researched engineering, the team and I hope to be able to start reducing this threat.
Many thanks from myself and the whole EWB Bristol Branch team.
The total cost of the project to the team is £4000, which includes transport, insurance, safety measures and some contingency. We are committed and passionate about this project and are happy to give more information if you are interested. Any contribution would be of great help to us.
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