News at Princeton

Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

Multimedia: Student

Student Work: Engineers Without Borders, Sierra Leone

In the summer of 2012, four Princeton students traveled to Koidu, Sierra Leone, looking for a community to partner with for a new Engineers Without Borders project. Read more.

Video Closed Captions


MIKE SHOWAK: Welcome to Koidu.

We're here on our 2012
pre-assessment trip as part of

the Princeton Chapter of
Engineers Without Borders, the

Sierra Leone Project, looking
to find a project to do here

in Koidu town, in the Kono
district, eastern province of

Sierra Leone.

a fairly large city.

It's the biggest in the
eastern province.

I've been told that about ninety
thousand to a hundred

thousand people live there.

But, unfortunately, all one
hundred thousand of those

people suffer lack of access to
paved roads, running water,


There are no power lines.

Any source of electricity that
people contain comes from

generators or individual
solar installations.

MIKE SHOWAK: When we go to these
communities, we often

spend a number of hours just
sitting and observing.

You have to watch where people
are getting their water from,

where they're going to the
bathroom, and how they're

actually distributing
medical supplies.

As you're doing that people will
start to come up to you

and mention things that are
going on in their community.

And, by really trying to
interact with these people is

how you understand where their
needs are, where their

problems are, and what
is actually going

well in their community.

KATIE BREEN: We went to Wardu
this week, and we went there

with the same mission that
we went with the other

communities, going there to talk
to the people that live

there and interview with the
chief, and really get a sense

of what these people are
experiencing in their

day-to-day life, while
living in this place.

CHRISTINE FENG: Ultimately, we
chose Dorma as the community

to form a partnership with.

We determined that the most
pressing problems that

currently face the village are:
one, lack of a source of

clean water; two,lack of a
sanitation and latrine

facility; and, three, lack
of safe bridges on the

main road to town.

MIKE SHOWAK: Dorma only has one
functioning well, which is

dry for at least half the year,
sending residents to the

swamps nearby to gain water.

main issues in Dorma that

we've identified are these
unsanitary latrines, which are

essentially shallow pits dug
within the ground, maybe about

ten meters from houses, with
palm fronds and various

lengths of cloth outside.

These pits contribute to a lot
of unsanitary practices and

increase the amount of illnesses
within the community


MIKE SHOWAK: One of the
potential problems in the

Dorma community are two
pipe bridges they

have over small creeks.

As you can see, these bridges
aren't really designed for

large scale transportation.

Cars have a tough time getting
across them, which impacts the

health clinic set on the other
side of the bridges, and

motorbikes, the primary form
of transportation, have a

really tough time as they
skid out on the pipes.

Locals try and put the mud back
frequently during the

rainy season, but it washes
away pretty quickly.

CHRISTINE FENG: Over the past
few days, we've been in talks

with the Dorma chief, and the
community of Dorma is very

excited partner with us to
form an EWB-USA project.

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