Looking back at 2017

Looking back at 2017

2017 was another busy year for the EWB-DC Chapter!

Each of our three projects achieved major milestones:

The Cameroon team traveled to their project site in Mbokop in February–just before the start of the rainy season that runs from March through October. On the trip, the team installed roughly 600 meters of pipe to reach the storage tank, and completed the construction of the closed water storage tank. Additionally, they constructed the storage tank valve box and three maintenance value boxes along the pipeline. It was a busy two-weeks for the four EWB-DC travelers who were joined by in-country partners, including the Bamenda-based NGO HEDECS. Outside of construction, the team held meetings and trainings with the Water Committee and community groups. When the EWB-DC team isn’t able to travel to the community they work collaboratively with HEDECS to prepare goals from trips that HEDECS take independently. These trips often focus on sustainability and help to provide valuable information back to the EWB-DC team. HEDECS returned Mbokop two additional times this year to work with the Water Committee to plan for sustainability and to check on the system.

The Panama team strategically aimed to try to expedite their project by having volunteers on the ground in Rincon for a longer period of time than the typical 1-2 week trips. The team was able to bring 15 different volunteers to Rincon in 2017, for a total of 7 weeks on-site. During those weeks, the team was able to complete the construction of the foundation for the building, which will serve as a library/tech center, participate in numerous stakeholder engagement meetings, and establish procedures with the community for sorting aggregate, which the team is using in the construction of the building. The team also trained the community volunteers on mix design and quality control, which showed substantial improvement in the comprehensive strength of the cylinders. The success of the Panama project team is due in large part to local collaborations. The team has active participation from four EWB chapters–EWB-DC Professionals, Montgomery College, Catholic University, and Howard University.

The El Salvador team had a major milestone year–we are excited to announce that the project is now officially complete and the project team is finalizing the community close-out logistics. EWB-DC began the partnership with the Santa Clara community in 2004 and the water system was completed in 2012. Since that time, the EWB-DC team has assessed options for other projects (including a bridge and cookstoves) in the community. This year, the team traveled to El Salvador in September where they developed a demographic snapshot of the community, conducted water quality tests and community interviews, and officially turned over pump maintenance and operations to the community with the final development of an operations SOP. The water quality tests proved within acceptable parameters and the system is being successfully managed by the community committee responsible. EWB-DC is confident in the community’s ability to successfully manage the system moving forward and has signed the community closure document along with the community and the water committee. This is the first EWB-DC project that is closing and we’ll look forward to sharing a more comprehensive review and lessons learned in a future blog.

What do the EWB-DC teams do when they’re in DC and not their partner communities? There’s lots of planning, trainings, and fundraising that’s taking place! For example, the Panama project coordinated first aid trainings and had 12 team members certified, as well as completed a training on reading engineering drawings.

As a chapter, we successfully hosted our third annual Gala in March (save the date for March 23, 2018 with more details coming soon!) along with other local-to DC fundraising events, and came close to meeting our 2017 Year-End Campaign fundraising goal!  Chapter members attended the EWB-USA conference in Milwaukee and presented on EWB-DC projects, while locally we continued to increase our collaborations with other local chapters. EWB-DC is lucky to be in such close proximity to several other strong professional and student chapters and to be able to collaborate on project, professional, and  development initiatives.

What are we looking forward to in 2018? You’ll have to check back just after the New Year! Until then, have a happy rest of 2017 and we look forward to connecting with you in 2018!