Project Overview

Engineers Without Borders' work is capable of widespread impact in Ghana. We started off based in only a few of the nation's 107 regional districts; learning the out-in-the-field realities and building tools to address them.
We are now scaling up proven, effective approaches to infrastructure development from a small number of districts, to a national level. Specifically, we are institutionalizing evidence-based infrastructure planning at the district, regional and national levels. To ensure we have an enduring impact, EWB is building the capacity of district staff to manage and execute these evidence based decisions, teaching these skills to the Ghanains who are best able to implement them from their positions as managers and field experts.

August 25, 2010

Thoughts from Training in Toronto

The group of diverse people that came together to do pre-departure training in Toronto is full of exceptional high-performers (I must have fooled someone to have got on this team!). We rapidly came together as a team, and I’d like you to meet my new friends that I’ve headed overseas with: this year’s professional fellows. Flying you here to say hello isn’t really in the budget, so we’ll have to settle for a blog introduction:

Don McMurtry: Don is enjoying early retirement after being at RIM
from when it was just three guys with a good concept, until recently. Don will
be working in Malawi on water and sanitation.

Mark Abbott: Some of you in Vancouver may know Mark, he is a major
driving force of Fair Trade in Vancouver and a part of the Fransen
Engineering team. Mark will be working for the Ghanaian Ministry of
Agriculture in a small village in Northern Ghana, seven hours travel
from the nearest city.

Mark Soares: A knowledge maven of the agricultural world from Agriculture Canada and an experienced traveler, Mark will stick with 'team Mark', also working for the Ghanaian ministry of Agriculture but
in a different small village in Northern Ghana.

Jason: An Engineering-physics grad with professional experience in test engineering, he was an EWB professional chapter president for the last year. Jason will be working for an Agricultural College about
20km away from where I’ll be.

Dana: A mechanical Engineer and a reflective thinker, Dana will be bringing his careful thought to Burkina Faso, just North of Ghana.

We’re all off and away to our districts across Africa to patiently learn
and act to make change.

The EWB national office environment in Toronto is electric – it has exceptional management practices and is full of (mostly) young people working hard with purpose – creating change for 'Dorothy' however it may be best accomplished. If you don’t know Dorothy, she is our client. I’m not sure if she was originally an actual person in an actual place, but she is now an EWB concept that is easy and powerful to come back to; asking how each of our actions could best benefit her.

The concept of a client, or someone we need to work efficiently & deliver the best results for is always in development fund raising literature, but looking at some projects I’m not sure its always in the project plans.

Is changing the concept of your ultimate client from the funder to the end user one that you could use in your work?

EWB is currently using this criteria to drive an evolving body of programs. Of course there are overseas programs like the one I’m working on for the next 4 months, but sometimes the problem blocking the solution isn’t in the field, sometimes it’s social, political, or other systems. For the last week I’ve been learning more about the organizations direction as a whole, and there is some really interesting work going on.

In Canada, EWB employees at the national office advocate for aid effectiveness, bringing back our knowledge from getting our hands dirty in the field to change the requirements put on aid funding. Let your local professional chapter know if you’d like to be a part of this.

Where do you think the biggest international change for improved results for Dorothy could occur? Looking forward to your comments.


August 9, 2010

Training in Toronto

My backpack is full of the myriad pharmaceuticals that I may or may not need (so many of them for Africa!), I’ve said see you soon to Jason, and flown to Toronto.

Here I’ll meet the other professional fellows in person and complete one final week of training which concludes four months of education on leadership skills, the successful and unsuccessful history of development work, how to stay healthy in Africa, and rural Ghanaian livelihoods.

You might have heard me say this before; one of my favorite things about EWB is that they put their time and money towards getting development work accomplished well, not towards fripperies. Training obviously makes a difference in effectiveness, especially when our time overseas is limited it is key that we can get going quickly. While we receive a more thoughtful and thorough training program than any other overseas development organization I’ve heard of, this is done at very little expense. Our long distance training was all done over skype, and we’re now bunking down together in EWB house Toronto. Its not flashy, but it gets the job done.

The total cost to EWB of sending a professional fellow overseas is $5,300 with the breakdown at the bottom of this post.

My fundraising goal is the same sum. I believe passionately in the value of bringing opportunities to those who don’t have them. These funds go towards the next professional fellow to go overseas and continue the same work I’m about to embark on. Thank-you everyone for your support!



$2,220 Airfare

$1,400 Living stipend (food, housing, travel, etc… ~ $10/day to live on)

$600 Overseas Support Resources

$500 Insurance

$150 Visas

$400 Pre-departure travel

$50 Pre-departure training materials