EWB-NEU worked in the Yoro District of Honduras from 2004 until 2018, completing 5 projects and beginning work on a sixth. Our professional mentor, Dan Saulnier, had a crucial role in establishing our relationship with the region, and we appreciate his role in our chapter's development until his departure in 2018. Each completed project provided a community with potable water, increasing their ability to meet their basic human needs while expanding our chapter's expertise with water projects.
We are beyond grateful for our opportunity to have completed projects in the communities of El Tecuan, Los Planes, El Chaguite, Los Oreros, and El Carrizalito, and to have worked with our long-time partner NGO, ACTS Honduras. Our ability to support those communities would not have been possible without the help of ACTS member Dionisio, who has been our point of contact for years. Our involvement with the Yoro district culminated with our partnership in the community of Ocotal.
Ocotal, and neighboring community Potrerillos, contain a combined population of about 400. In 2014, our chapter established a partnership with the community to create a complete water transmission and distribution system that would service tap stands at about 75 individual homes. This system would transport water from two spring sources located 2 miles up a hill from the community. The team completed Assessment trips in both 2015 and late 2016, preparing for the start of implementation in early 2018. However, the project was put on hold during May 2018 due to EWB-USA's decision to withdraw all groups from the country based on security issues. Several EWB-NEU alumni and ACTS Honduras have partnered to continue the project as a non-EWB effort, and while we are disappointed to put the project on hold, our chapter is happy that the community of Ocotal is in good hands.
Bbanda is a town of nearly 1300 people in the Mityana District of south-central Uganda. Bbanda faces many challenges when it comes to water. The village has several springs in the area; however, all of these are contaminated, and the drilled wells in town are prone to breaking down. In Bbanda, it is the children who collect the water that their family will use. Not only does this place an incredible physical burden on the children, but it takes time that would otherwise be spent in school. In addition, the time and effort spent collecting water limits how much people will use, and this has negative health impacts. Solving Bbanda's water crisis will be a complex problem.
In 2008, Friends of the Sick and Poor approached EWB-USA Northeastern about the water crisis in Bbanda. In April 2009, EWB-USA Northeastern traveled to Bbanda to meet with the community and learn crucial social and technical factors shaping the community’s water crisis. Upon return to the States, the team analyzed the challenges of bringing water to the town. Bbanda needs an increased supply of water, but it also needs water closer to its homes. In conjunction with the Bbanda Water Board, EWB-USA Northeastern drilled two wells and built a rainwater catchment system in August 2010. These two partners continued their work in April 2011, constructing and repairing three additional rainwater catchment systems on the town's elementary schools. In November 2011, EWB-USA Northeastern returned to Bbanda to build the necessary connections for the smooth construction of a larger water system.
Since completion of the distribution system, EWB-NEU has witnessed an incredible progression in the responsibility of the community members and leadership, who have built several tap stands on their own and created a bank account for their funds. EWB-NEU has traveled on an assessment trip to the community of Nakyenyi and will begin work on the construction of a new water system as we close out our involvement with Bbanda.
After a long search, EWB-USA NEU has finally decided on a new program in the village of Las Delicias, Panama. Las Delicias is home to around 200 people in 50 homes, and it located about three and a half hours from Panama City. Most families make their livelihood through subsistence farming along with main cash crops including oranges and coffee.
In August 2014, a group of students and the Honduras Professional Mentor, Dan Saulnier, traveled on a service-learning trip and were placed in Las Delicias. They assisted the community in building a water storage tank for the local school, as the local water supply system was neither consistent nor sufficient enough to continuously supply the school or many of the villagers with water. The Northeastern students and faculty spoke with the villagers about their struggles with accessing water on a regular basis, and an initial explanation of Engineers Without Borders and the project process began.
When two EWB-USA NEU members were able to attend the ASCE Global Engineering Conference in Panama City, they also made time to travel to the village. They were able to further the relationship with the community and explain the application process, and the community set to work on completing their official application. The community of Las Delicias and the Northeastern Chapter continued to coordinate and were able to submit their reports, which resulted in an official approval of the program in mid-March of 2015.
The first assessment trip took place in August 2015, and the work is ongoing. While the water distribution system was commissioned in December 2018, EWB-NEU plans to continue its involvement in the project by adding another source connected to a brand new transmission main.
The village of Chuixil is located in the municipality of Joyabaj in the Quiche Department of Guatemala. When EWB-USA withdrew groups from the country of Honduras, members of the Honduras program began to search for new projects to work on. EWB-NEU applied to partner with the community in June 2018 and immediately began preparing for an assessment trip for December of that year.
Upon completion of the trip, EWB-NEU made a "go" decision for the project that will involve the design and construction of a school building and access road. This will be the first time an EWB-NEU program has committed to a structural project, after its long history with water projects. We are very excited to take on this challenge.
The community of Chuixil has a population of about 200. There is an existing makeshift school, comprised of bamboo walls and a tin roof. This school currently serves about 40 children, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. Members of the community have been extremely vocal in expressing their desire for a permanent structure in which their children will further their education.
During our first assessment trip, we collected soil data and visited example schools in the region, developing a positive relationship with both the community and the EWB office of Joyabaj. Implementation for the project is scheduled to begin in December of 2019. Our chapter is extremely grateful to the community of Chuixil for welcoming us into their homes and giving us the opportunity to work together on this project. We hope to continue our involvement in Guatemala as we did in Honduras.