Campus group working to create irrigation system in Nicaragua

Tanvi Parmar, Special Assignments Reporter

Members of Engineering Without Borders (EWB) have gotten a step closer in bringing clean water to Nicaragua. The group has settled on the village it will be installing an irrigation system in but still needs to decide what specific project would benefit the community best.

“We are in a critical pivot point with our project in Nicaragua,” said Jacob Kupas, the project leader.

For the project, the club will be working in Aragon, Nicaragua. EWB must choose if it wants to build a water distribution system, a water filtration system, a water storage system, or a combination of these mechanisms.

Students from EWB will be working with professional engineers and construction firms to design the system.

The groups say that when communities are unclean, families are vulnerable to infectious diseases and other health problems. Households also end up spend more time trying to obtain clean water to fulfill basic needs, often preventing women and girls from getting an education and working.

As stated by their website, the club is committed to the pursuit of community-based development through the design and implementation of sustainable engineering projects.

Essentially, their goal is to allow for everyone to have access to basic needs.

The Engineers Without Borders Case Western Reserve University group has worked on similar projects in the Dominican Republic, Thailand, and Cameroon. One example is their gravity fed water system for the village of Cruce de Blanco in the Dominican Republic, which they recently finished so that they could focus on Nicaragua.

The system is made up of eight kilometers of transport and distribution pipes. 100 taps have been installed in homes designated to benefit from the project. Members have taught the community all of the information needed to help the system continue to run in the future.

EWB-CWRU also worked with the community to build point-of-use slow bio-sand filters. After the students returned home, members of the community would still be able to make these water purification units that will eventually provide clean water to the community.

In addition to creating the irrigation system, members formed a relationship with the local primary school. They have been able to visit the school and educate the students about hygiene, hand washing, dental health, respiratory health, and science. By providing this knowledge, they hope to help the community improve the general health and the quality of life.

They have also worked on projects locally and researched methods of water treatment intended to supply fresh clean water and basic sanitation needs for the community.

On Saturday, Apr. 6, the organization will be holding its Salsa for Water event in Nord 310 from 7 to 10 p.m. in order to promote their project in Nicaragua and raise awareness on campus. At the event, students will learn how to Salsa dance and be able to enjoy a nacho bar.

EWB’s public relations chair Anjana Rao said, “With more members, EWB can gain new insights and innovative ideas. At the event this Saturday, attendees can not only learn about our many projects, they can meet current EWB members and have a good time.”