Winner of the „umWeltpreis“ 2014.
With their project 'Education Remains', “Engineers Without Borders” (EWB) aims at teaching methods to students of a Bolivian vocational school in order to identify problems and technical solutions to the problems of the rural population. The objective is the construction of cookstoves in one of the surrounding villages by the students in joint action.
Bolivia is among the poorest nations of Latin America and is severely affected by social inequality. Particularly the needs of the rural population are hardly accounted for. The people of the highlands are afflicted by malnourishment and water scarcity. In many cases, simple technologies can create big effects in order to solve these problems, though. With their educational project 'Education Remains' the local "EWB" group of Aachen, Germany aims to promote technical knowledge and, in that way, strengthen preexisting local structures.
The project's primary local partner, the technical vocational school 'Sayarinapaj' in Cochabamba, Bolivia, wishes to offer its students a practice-orientated training, which will enable them to identify and solve problems in a systematic manner. With the help of Engineers Without Borders the students are to learn the technical solution to a specific problem of the village of Taca Copa in the Bolivian highlands. As a final project they will put this solution into practice on their own. The implementation shall take place with minimal technical effort and with the use of locally available materials.
In the village of Taca Copa the use of open fireplaces within cottages implies a serious health risk. The inhabitants spend a number of hours each day inhaling smoke from the fireplaces while preparing food. By talking to the villagers, they identified this issue as a major problem themselves. Momentarily, we are developing improved cookstoves, which will be implemented by the students in cooperation with the village people. It is the villager's participation, that is not only helpful for the project, but crucial for the project's sustainable impact, as numerous experiences with projects in Bolivia have been shown.
Regarding maintenance issues as well as the communication with the rural communities, it is indispensable to include an experienced local partner. For this reason, we are working together with the Bolivian NGO 'Fundación SODIS'.
Another aspect for a sustainable impact of this project is taking a 'detour' via the implementation of the technology by the vocational school students. In this way, it is not the helping EWB from outside but the students themselves who solve the problem and implement the technology (of course with our support).
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Engineers Without Borders Germany project-code: BOL-IOG03