San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.1221.1 - 25.1221.10
Sustainable International Development Work as a ProcessIt is the experience of a student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at aMidwest institution, that sustainable international development work is a process thatrequires long range thought. The majority of engineering students who travel todeveloping countries with groups like EWB do so for a limited time period of an averageof two weeks, one to two times during their entire college career. Many critiques ofsustainable development projects completed by groups comprised of these types ofstudents are often categorized as being unbeneficial because of their inherent short-termview. Often an engineering professor or professional mentor serves as the cornerstone ofthe group to prevent this inconsistency. In the case of this student chapter of EWB,mentors are in the form of students who have traveled more than twice and paidparticular attention to the needs of the villages in the region.This Midwest chapter of EWB works on water distribution and sanitation projects in thenorthwest highlands of Guatemala working closely with the Guatemalan non-profitorganization, Water for Health. Documenting experiences since its inception in 2007, theEWB group has found the process of successful development work to include discussionswith experienced development workers, listening to the in-country community payingclose attention to passive communication, and returning to the same area to completesubsequent projects.It is clear to veteran travelers who have returned four and five times and communicatedirectly with villagers and the staff of Water for Health, that the scope of each yearlyproject is considerably broader. At this point, the group of veterans has been a part oftransitioning Water for Health to new leadership and a new method of finding projectsthat utilizes an association comprised of 50 Guatemalan village leaders that prioritize thearea’s construction needs. It was the belief during the first projects in 2007 and 2008 thatchlorination is the preferred and best purification method for the village potable waterdistribution systems. After deliberation with villagers in 2009 and 2010, many culturaltruths that prevent the chlorination systems to ever function are now understood.Presently, the group has plans to discuss slow sand filtration with a community inJanuary 2012 with the hopes of small-scale implementation in January 2013 that cangrow to large-scale implementation throughout the year. Based on the experiences of one5-year old chapter of Engineers Without Borders, it has been determined that sustainableinternational development can only be achieved when viewed as a long-term process.
Jablonski, M., & Reisel, J. R. (2012, June), Sustainable International Development as a Process Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21978
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