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Latest News from Engineers in Action

Posted on: July 29, 2009

The Chiquitano Forest is the largest tropical dry forest in the world, covering 44 million acres, roughly the size of state of Florida. Because of its remoteness, between 80-85% of the 60,000 inhabitants live in extreme poverty*.

200 Chiquitano Communities Suffer as Water Wells Fail

From 2000-2004, the Bolivian government, with funding from the Japanese government, drilled an estimated 200 water wells throughout the Chiquitano at a cost of more than $3 million.

San Juan de la Bella near Concepcion

However, they did no testing of the water, and simply left the well with open casing, often welding a lid on top. So, while a potable water well had been drilled in their community, people had no access. In a few locations, ingenious locals actually pried off the lids and developed their own crude bucket system just to get at the water.

Efforts to Salvage These Wells Fall Through

In 2004-2008, Hermes Justiniano, the Director of the Chiquitano Forest Preserve Foundation and a Rotarian in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, found $1.3 million in funding from Canadian Rotary groups to put 96 hand pumps on these wells. However, in 2008, they discovered that over a fourth of the hand pumps that had been installed were not working because of the lack of maintenance.

Hope for Real Change in Chiquitano

In January 2009, a new partnership was formed between the Chiquitano Forest Preserve Foundation (FCBC), Rotary Clubs of Canada, and Engineers In Action (EIA). This partnership seeks to repair, inspect, and maintain the 96 wells with hand pumps. We will also install hand pumps on the wells which don’t have them.

Our Bolivian Rotary Connection

Posted on: January 25, 2009

The MiraFlores Rotary Club

The Rotary Club of Mira Flores (a neighborhood in La Paz) has agreed to be our "Bolivian Connection" to Rotary Clubs throughout Bolivia. EWB chapters often raise money from Rotary Clubs in the US but need to partner with an "in-country" Rotary Club to get additional funding from Rotary International and additional support from the clubs.

We asked the Rotary Club of Mira Flores to be the partner for the Rotary Clubs of Kansas who are supporting the EWB-KU team. But they went even further!

Rotary Mira Flores has said that they will coordinate partnerships for any EWB chapter that needs a Bolivian Rotary Club `partner.They will try to match up a Bolivian club which is closest to the where the EWB project is. This should greatly facilitate fund-raising from Rotary Clubs in the US.

In addition to that, we discussed with the MiraFlores Club the possibility of supporting the fund raising efforts of the EWB-UMSA (Universidad Major de San Andres of La Paz). Unfortunately, there isn´t a culture of donating to good causes by Bolvian individuals and Bolvian businesses.

The Rotary Clubs of Bolivia are trying to change that. Fund raising by the Bolivian Engineering students of UMSA has been very difficult. They made a great presentation of their joint work at Azacilo with EWB-KU to the Mira Flores Rotary and really impressed these business men and women. They will be speaking as a club about how they might help fund the costs for these young bolivian engineers.

If your EWB chapter is raising money from a US Rotary Club for a project in Bolivia and they need a Bolivian Rotary Club to partner with, contact David Stephenson by email at: tulsadstephenson (at) yahoo.com

Thanks to all of the Rotarians who are helping EWB and EIA. “Service Above Self”

Our New Engineering Intern

Posted on: January 21, 2009

Will Kirby

Will Kirby graduated as one of the top 5 Civil Engineering graduates from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in December. Will has worked on several EWB trips to Bolivia.

He has had several lucrative job offers, including his “dream offer”. But Will has managed to delay this offer until early June so that he can come to Bolivia and work as an intern for EIA.

He arrives around the middle of February, and will be staying until the end of May. We will have some pictures and more information on this fine young man later.

Welcome aboard Will!

Our Fourth Engineering Position

Posted on: January 15, 2009

EIA continues rapid growth

We had one engineer a year and half ago, two engineers up until January of 2009. With Will’s addition in February we will have three. And now it appears likely that we will be adding a Fourth engineer in April.

This engineer will be working with the huge Chiquitano Clean Water Project that will be a joint project between EIA, the Chiquitano Forest Preserve Foundation, the Canadian Rotary Clubs, and the Municipalities of the Chiquitano. Visit Chiquitano Clean Water Project for more information.

$10,000 grants soon to be available for EWB-Chapters working in Bolivia

Posted on: January 12, 2009

Bolivian grant update

On January 12, 2009, David Stephenson, Director of Operations at EIA, met with the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales and Sacha Llorenti, Evo’s Chief of Staff. In that meeting David requested the support of the Bolivian Government in funding EWB projects in Bolivia.

The Bolivian National Government has given millions of dollars (US) to the municipalities (like county governments) to do projects, similar to EWB projects. However, the Municipalities often don’t have the experienced people to hire someone to come in to their community and do the work. We also found out that the Municipalities can give up to $10,000US without bidding, to projects which have been through a prioritizing process.

So here is what David proposed to the President. That our EIA engineers go to some of the Municipal governments and look at the projects and see which ones would work as EWB projects. We then work in partnership with the Municipal and local community leaders to develop the project as EWB projects (fill out the form #501). Then once it is adopted, the Municipal Government will give $10,000 to the project, and EWB provides free engineering design and will raise the additional funds needed to finish the project, with a maximum of $30,000 per project ($20,000 from the chapter).

President Morales and his staff were quite positive about this approach. In addition to that, they pointed out that the Government has designated 30 specific Municipalities as the poorest in the country, and they asked if we could focus on them. David said that it would, of course, be possible.

This was followed up a week later with a meeting with David Churquihaunca, the Foreign Minister. Mr. Churquihuanca was fully aware of the previous discussions (he had obviously been briefed) and completely supportive.

This should be a good deal for everyone. The Bolivian Government gets up to $30,000 in materials and free engineering for a project which only costs them $10,000. And the EWB chapter doesn´t have to raise the first $10,000 of the materials cost. And finally, we can tell people that they will be working in one of the 30 poorest Municipalities in the second poorest country in Latin America.
 
Sacha Llorenti, who is the equivalent of the Chief of Staff to President Morales, will be bringing together those 30 municipalities and discuss this project and get back to David. We will keep you informed.

Engineers In Action Bolivian Internship Report

Posted on: September 25, 2008

Bolivian Internship Report

Our Bolivian intern, Chayla Rowley, talks about her work in Bolivia this summer:

"I had the opportunity to examine relationships grow to fruitful outcomes in Potosí. EIA teamed up with a group from the University of Oklahoma to hold a course on Passive Water Treatment Systems. The course was held in the University of Potosí and was a joint effort on the parts of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Potosí."

"Students, me included, were taught of the devastating outcomes of mine contaminants on water and how to build and use Passive Water Treatment Systems for managing these contaminants."

"I also had the chance to accompany the Oklahoma University team in their field work outside of the classroom. As a Civil Engineering Major with a focus on Water and Sanitation Engineering I was most interested in the water contamination from the mines scattered throughout Potosí."

"I helped collect water samples, read pH, and learned the meaning of the different pH’s in respect to contamination in the water. In addition I gained a general knowledge of the affects of the contaminants on the land and in the crops, which explained a great deal about the communities’ health issues and sanitation problems."

"My experience in Bolivia gave me a greater comprehension of various aspects of civil engineering and a better grasp on the importance of collaboration. The work being done in Bolivia and those working on it are incredible testaments to growth, and the education and insights I received are information I will continue to pull from…"

(click here to read more of Chayla’s report…)

EWB Radio Interview

Posted on: July 28, 2008

Listen to EWB on the radio! David Stephenson explains the incredible work of Engineers in Action for Results Radio in Tulsa.

Listen to the interview here: EWB on Results Radio

Bridges in Rio Colorado

Posted on: July 20, 2008

EWB MST replaced two of the three bridges on the campus with materials and plans left for them to complete the third. Our students went out into the community and in the classroom to teach about UV water purification methods that use the sun to disinfect water.

We got up to the second level with the self composting latrines with plans and materials left once again to complete it. The generator housing was completed, rewiring around the school, light instillation, and a new generator on the way. Last, about seven valves were put in the existing water lines.

Opening EIA Office in La Paz

Posted on: June 20, 2008

We reached our first milestone. On Thursday June 20th, EIA opened its first international office on the the 11th floor of the Cosmos Building, which is located on the main boulevard of La Paz, the capitol of Bolivia. There were 20-30 persons present including, of course, our Bolivian team of Milton de la Cruz, Dr. Ruben Mamani, members of the Board of Directors in addtion to Dr. Mamani: Mike Keyse, Bishop Carlos Poma, and myself; representatives of the Skiatook First United Methodist Church who funded the pilot project for EIA, plus various members of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Bolivia who had partnered with us in the development of this organization.
 
Short speeches were presented by our EIA staff: Milton de la Cruz and Dr. Ruben Mamani. Dr. Rolando Yanapa, Secretary of Services for the Methodist Church (who was in Oklahoma in April), and the Medical Doctor who runs rural development for the Methodist Church also shared short speeches.
 
And then there was a long rambling speech by the Director of Operations —-ME; which inlcuded sharing some of our dreams and goals for the work of this office for the next 5 years. To avoid any jealousy or competition, the gifts to the office (GPS, camara and IP phone) were given in private at a later time. It was an important milestone for our organization and all went well; as we honored the Bolivian tradition of having formal meetings about EVERYTHING!