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Monday , October 14 2019

Engineers without Borders

Zainab Garashi Chairperson of Engineers without Borders – Kuwait

Engineers without Borders – Kuwait (EWB – Kuwait) was established in 2013 based on the mission to apply sustainable engineering solutions for helping communities in improving the quality of their lives through the utilization of the experiences and knowledge of its volunteers, and with the vision to live in a world where the community is self-sufficient and everyone has access to the basic needs by applying sustainable engineering solutions.

Based on the aforementioned mission and vision, EWB – Kuwait started preparing its plan for annual projects both locally and abroad. The range of projects start with humanitarian engineering projects that require implementation of a direct solution to any given problem that a community faces, and reaching the level of projects that target different sectors of the community which would be considered as social engagement to raise awareness or build human capability.

Currently, EWB – Kuwait is working in six fields – international engineering sustainable projects, “Bait” project for the renovation of houses for unprivileged families in Kuwait, conferences and forums, the upcoming engineering camp titled “Hands-on engineering activities for kids”, a project titled “Without obstacles” dedicated to renovating spaces that are not user-friendly for the disabled, and a student innovation competition titled “The Challenge”.

Other than these ongoing projects, EWB – Kuwait had completed projects based on the need or a certain situation. For instance, Engineers without Borders – Kuwait last January had worked on renovating Jabriya walkway which was demolished during a road construction project. Engineers without Borders went ahead to work with several governmental organizations and reconstruct the walkway.

Another example is the latest proposal we submitted to the Municipal Council to redesign and improve the old Hareem Souq, which has been out of service for several years. Our proposal covered the architectural design and preparation of an operational study, and recommended changes to be made to the mandate to help re-launch the Souq.

EWB – Kuwait’s projects are in alignment with most, if not all, of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as we believe that engineering plays a vital role in fulfilling them.

It is evident in our international projects, the first one being a sanitation project using a biogas system. The project was carried out in a village in the border area of Mumbai city in India. It is a boarding school that accommodates around 500 girls and boys aged between four and 16. Most of the schools have two buildings in front of each other – one for girls and other for boys, a library, a teacher’s dormitory, a kitchen, etc. We built four toilet blocks and a sanitation system for the students, and we then connected these blocks to a biogas system. We believe this is a basic human need, which was lacking in the school. The biogas system converts human waste into methane (CH4), which is used for cooking on a gas stove.

Through this project, we achieved three goals. First and most important, the school was provided with toilet units. Secondly, the sanitation system diverts the human waste and solves the hygiene issue while also achieving a sustainable goal by using the biogas system for producing methane gas. The school uses the gas for cooking purposes, reducing gas cylinder expenses and saving the efforts of a long trip to purchase the gas cylinders.

The second international project was a solar energy project carried out in a boarding school in a village called Mal in Mumbai, India. The school was located in a remote area in the border area of Mumbai city (jungle area). All 50 students have mental disabilities, making it challenging to keep them safe especially during the nighttime. The basic need of the school was electricity to light the entire school facilities, the outer wall and the temple of the school.

Through this project, we achieved two main goals – first, the school is fully lit using solar energy, and second, the financial burden on the school was reduced through the use of solar energy for electricity.

Our third project was related to organizing a vocational training course at a school for Syrian refugees. Four EWB – Kuwait engineers were sent for two weeks to Al-Salam School for Syrian Refugee Children. This school is located in Reyhanli, a town in Turkey which borders Syria. The engineers who were sent to the school are specialized in solar energy and coding. We carried out this project because we believe in the importance of sharing knowledge on alternative energy, and we believe the new generations should be ready and well educated about these subjects.

This year we were happy to complete a good number of projects. They included two international projects, renovation of 12 houses for unprivileged families, construction of Jabriya walkway, two programs for kids, and signing a memorandum of understanding with UN-Habitat. In addition, we were honored to receive an award from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for our volunteering efforts.

By Zainab Garashi

Chairperson of Engineers without Borders – Kuwait

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