Davis peace grant helps students bring clean water to Ethiopian village

Publication Date

The College’s Engineers Without Borders chapter is working to bring clean water to Boru, Ethiopia thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace.

Rebecca Wentworth ’11, Phil Lambert ’11, Julie Fehlmann ’12 and Darren Del Dotto ’12 have proposed the construction of a well in Boru to allow children to spend their days in school rather than walking to get safe water. Several of the students will travel to Africa to carry out the project.

“Many children sacrifice their education by needing to travel long distances to collect water for their families throughout the day,” said Lambert. “By creating this water source on the village school grounds, which is a central location for the village, we will help more children go to school as well as provide the village with a safe, nearby supply of water.”

Only 42 percent of the population in Ethiopia has access to an improved water supply and only 11 percent has access to adequate sanitation services. A well in Boru would dramatically improve the quality of life for its 5,000 residents.

The EWB chapter traveled to Boru in spring 2009 under the leadership of Tehtena Tenaw ’09. Lambert and Fehlmann were part of that group, which performed water and soil testing, surveyed several locations and interviewed villagers about their water situation. Their trip helped determine the need for a well in Boru and established contacts in Ethiopia that will maintain the well after it has been dug.

“The EWB students were very persistent with their efforts on this project,” said Maggie Tongue, the College’s director of Postgraduate Fellowships and Scholarships. “They submitted proposals three years in a row and each time they did more work and improved their proposal. They proved that they really had done the necessary ground work to see this project through.”

Last year, a pair of Union students won a grant for their Birds for Peace project, which established a poultry and dairy business in the Murang’a District of central Kenya. The students brought cows and chickens to the county orphanage to fight famine and to serve as a model for neighboring villages.

In its fourth year, the Davis Projects for Peace is an invitation to undergraduates to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer. The objective is to encourage and support today's motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace.