As a technical humanitarian NGO, Engineers Without Borders Denmark (EWB-DK) collaborate with local and international NGOs to improve the living conditions for vulnerable people in poor countries. With the technical skills and backgrounds of the volunteers, EWB-DK build schools and health clinics, provide clean water and better sanitation, improve roads and bridges as well as establish solar power plants and waste treatment plants.
“A crucial element in our work is to pass on our volunteer’s know-how and technical skills to our local partners and through the projects ensure local anchorage and lasting solutions,” says Dorte Lindegaard Madsen, Secretary General at EWB-DK.
All projects are developed and managed by volunteer project groups – from the initial idea generation or contact to potential partners, through fact-finding and signing of a local partnership agreement, to implementation and final handover to local community. Marianne Skov is one of the volunteers, who works as a project manager in one of EWB-DKs project groups:
“Contributing to raising awareness about the effects of climate changes, increasing the knowledge level and enhancing the coping capacity of vulnerable communities motivate me and have been a driven factor, both professionally and as an EWB-DK volunteer,” says Marianne Skov, Flood Risk Specialist at Rambøll A/S. In March 2018, she travelled to Sierra Leone on a fact-finding mission after flooding and mudslides ravaged the Freetown area in August 2017. More than 1000 people lost their lives and water systems was damaged and disrupted. Now, EWB-DK and Engineers without Borders Sierra Leone (EWB-SL) has installed water towers and taps and are now moving on to phase two in order to make them more secure for next time a similar disaster will occur.
In 2018, EWB-DK supported its local partners with 631 days of technical missions providing support, training and mentoring. For four months, Nichlas Halberg Madsen travelled to Sierra Leone as part of EWB-DKs Internship-program. Here Nichlas worked together with EWB-SL on a project that focuses on the aspect of proper handling of medical waste from hospitals and rural clinics – an increased focus since the outbreak of Ebola in 2014. For Nichlas, the Internship was both educational and challenging at the same time:
“During my internship I gained an understanding of how different people think and act differently depending on their culture. Even the smallest projects can be complex to implement when reality hits. I also learned project management and flexibility in projects,” says Nichlas Halberg Madsen, studying M.Sc. Techno-Anthropology at Aalborg University, Copenhagen.
Early 2018, EWB-DK launched the multi-partner capacity development project EU Aid Volunteers Initiative, together with Scandinavian EWBs, Emergency Architecture & Human Rights and partners in Sierra Leone, Nepal and Tanzania. The purpose is to enhance quality and capacity of volunteer management and hence increase the amount of future deployment of volunteers.
“Through the support of the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative our platform and internal structure to manage and send volunteers abroad has been significantly strengthened. We find it very pro-active by the EU to further this institutional capacity building of the partners both in the EU countries and in the third countries we work in,” says Dorte Lindegaard Madsen, Secretary General at EWB-DK.
EWB-DK has worked for establishing access to clean drinking water after the severe flood and mudslide in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone in august 2017