At the top floor of Rotterdam’s energy company Stedin, a group of 25 professional engineers collaborated in teams to address challenges for sustainable development in Africa during the Engineers without Borders Netherlands (EWB-NL) 2019 Design Challenge. Each challenge was brought in by a partnering non-profit organization, which also supported the volunteers helping to find their solutions.

At the end of the day, all of the teams pitched their solutions and a jury selected the winning concept. The winning team was invited to develop their concept and implement the solution in the future.

Design Challenge participant presents solution in front of projector screen with photos.

Energized by Stedin
The event was sponsored by the Jong Stedin Groep, the organization for young professionals within Stedin. David Peters, Chief Transition Officer of Stedin, proudly opened the event and could relate with the challenges in Africa: “I was born in Rwanda and my parents met each other over there. My father built a water plant to generate energy for Rwanda. Even though the country has not always been that stable, the plant has always been there. It’s the projects you work on today that will make real impact!”

 A woman speaks in front of the participants in Stedin for the 2019 Design Challenge.

The four challenges
After a mindfulness session with Denise Jonker, the challenges were presented to the whole group.

  1. Mini grids
    The first challenge was presented by Aleksandra Radwanska and Lara Depla, two students representing JVE International during the Design Challenge. “We have been looking for villages in Togo to design a mini grid for, and we selected Kodje. It’s located quite remote and they are not connected to the national electrification plan. Can you design a mini grid without excessively oversizing the system with important appliances such as mills?” Two teams worked on this challenge.
  2. Banana waste valorization
    For the next challenge, Africa in Motion (AiM) teamed up with EWB-NL to explore the ways of using banana by-products for giving life to new products. Max Koffi from AiM: “We are linking to Dutch businesses to invest in Africa. The idea of this challenge is to build a modern processing unit to create more profit and more jobs for Rwanda.” Two teams worked on this challenge.
  3. Sustainable lighting
    The remaining two challenges belonged to OAN, which mainly works for Nikki- a rural community in Benin. OAN was not present at Stedin, as they are located in Spain. Therefore, Milou Derks from EWB-NL presented their cases. “OAN will be available by video call to answer your questions.” The first challenge by OAN seeks to find a solution for an alternative source of lighting, made of local materials. “For us it’s normal to have light everywhere, but for the people of Nikki light can improve their lives a lot.” One team worked on this challenge.
  4. Rainwater collection
    The other OAN-challenge focused on collecting rainwater. There is a need in Nikki for a more improved rainwater harvesting system. Two teams worked on this challenge.

Teams tackle the challenges
After the introduction, the participants divided into their teams. Each team worked for over 4 hours on a specific challenge. During the lunch break, a storytelling workshop was given by Petra Beris, Chair of EWB-NL. “The nicest part of the Design Challenge was the storytelling workshop, as I saw this knowledge being used in all the pitches,” explained participant Daniel Tekelenburg.

Three men and 1 woman sitting at a table, discussing possible solutions to their challenge.

And the winner is…
At the end of the day, each team pitched their solution in front of the whole group. The jury and each participant voted on the best solution and the best pitch. The banana challenge teams grouped together and won the prize for the best pitch. They proposed the idea to turn banana waste into fashionable bags. The public’s vote went to the Benin Water 2 team, which presented a solution to harvest and store rainwater.

Take a look at the 2019 Design Challenge after movie

Interested in working for or partnering with Engineers without Borders? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

A large computer lab filled with quality computers and not one of them has been used in nearly five years. That is the reality at Thamar University in Yemen where classes are in session, but are most often held in the dark.

Since 2014, there has been a huge electricity shortage due to the ongoing political conflict in the country. This has left the computer lab entirely without power and causes frequent blackouts throughout the campus and the city of Dhamar.

photo of computer lab at a Yemen university that does not have electricity
Thamar University in Yemen does not have power for the computer lab

The campus was utilising a diesel generator, but the school ran out of money for fuel. In fact, they can’t afford to pay employee salaries. Since 2015, the university staff has been working on a volunteer basis.

“A university with poor services is more likely to lose its students.” Engineers without Borders Netherlands volunteer Jorge Ortiz Gonzalez knows that the current situation is not sustainable for the university and could have a long-lasting negative impact on the country. “They have a full generation of IT students who have barely taken practical lessons.”

Jorge is a PV (photovoltaic) engineer- which means he is an expert in using solar cells to transform sunlight directly into electricity. So, when the university pitched the solar project to EWB-NL, he had a few motivations for stepping into the role of project lead.

“The thing that I liked most about it was its direct relationship with education. Also, I have previously volunteered in the Middle East, and this project sort of nicely connected that moment in the past with the present.”

Entrance to Thamar university in Yemen. A stone gate with national flag above
Thamar University – also called Dhamar

This is just one of the sustainable energy projects that EWB-NL has recently undertaken. Volunteer engineers are also working on solar energy infrastructures in Andavadoaka and Yikpa– two communities in rural Madagascar. Such initiatives are helping to advance access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy- a UN sustainable development goal.

For Thamar University, Jorge and his team designed an offgrid system consisting of solar panels and batteries to provide energy campus-wide. Jorge explains that solar PV is an ideal solution because the costs of the technology are declining and maintenance is minimal. The PV system would also deliver energy precisely when the campus needs it- during the time classes are being held.

“All the rest is there for this project in Yemen- a technical design, local distributors and installers, and a good organisation that will ensure the proper functioning of the system in the long term.”

A wide angle view of Dhamar, Yemen with buildings and skyscrapers and mountains in the background.
Dhamar, Yemen

Since PV technology is becoming more prevalent in the region, he also says there is an added benefit for the university.

“The system could also be used for educational purposes to improve the technical knowledge of how to install, operate and maintain a medium sized PV system with battery storage.”

But, for now, getting computers powered on and classrooms lit up will have far-reaching implications for Thamar University and beyond.

“Bringing electricity to the campus can also energise both students and staff. Improving the quality of the education is one of the best ways to empower a community.”

A special thanks to the Yemen solar project team for their hard work in developing potential solutions to help Thamar University. Learn more about how you can support EWB-NL’s sustainable energy projects.

In the small village of Sovu, in Northwest Rwanda, there is a high mortality rate due to a lack of clean water for drinking and sanitation. The sole water pipeline has long been in disrepair, so women and children often must travel far distances daily to fetch water. Families also rely on springs and surface water, which can be contaminated. “People rarely live to become older than 50 years of age,” explains EWB Netherlands engineer Alfred Mutsaars. “And, most children do not even survive to age four.”

Since last year, the Engineers without Borders Water4Sovu team has been working with local partners to improve access to clean water and sanitation in the region. The team first conducted a feasibility study. Then, they concluded that the project should initially focus on repairing the existing 12 kilometer water pipeline.

Last summer, Alfred Mutsaars and fellow EWB-NL volunteer Anna Goense travelled to Sovu to meet with the Sovu water committee and local government leaders. They also collaborated with area Roman Catholic priests, who own the water pipeline.

Small children collect water in Sovu, Rwanda

“We explained that EWB wants to put in place a sustainable ownership. This means that they have to empower their local village people to take responsibility for the water fetching points and implement a robust fee collection system.”

Together the organisations and EWB-NL engineers began to form a plan for reliable clean water access in the area.

A real game-changer

When Alfred and Anna returned to Sovu in February 2019, they say progress was already noticeable. Locals had installed water meters at tapping points along the pipeline and developed a system for collecting a fee for each 20 liter jerrycan that is filled from the tap. A local family typically uses 40 liters of water per day.

“This is a real game changer because now not only do locals have reliable water, for the first time they even want to pay for it,” says Alfred.

A water pump with meter in Sovu, Rwanda

But, there were still challenges to overcome. The local plumbers didn’t have good materials to repair the leaky pipeline because the necessary plumbing glue can only be purchased in the capital city of Kigali- a five hour drive from rural Sovu.

Alfred and Anna brought the glue with them along with PVC pipes better suited for the local water pressure. Then, they got to work. They assisted local plumbers in changing out damaged pipes and applying the glue.

“These biggest repairs really helped so that the water source is now even more reliable during the day with highest through point from the source to the lowest places in last rural village,” Alfred explains.

New opportunity for school children

Access to clean water hasn’t just improved home life in Sovu. Alfred says local medical facilities and schools are also benefiting.

“We revisited many secondary and primary schools in this rural environment along the pipeline, which all now finally have reliable access to drinking water via a few outside located taps. The principals of these schools were already very happy for their students.”

The new access to clean water also has also created a learning opportunity for local children. Most people in the rural area have never had access to sanitation, such as a flushing toilet. Many have never had soap. Alfred and Anna talked with school leaders about the importance of setting up a WASH programme and educating children about sanitation and good hygiene practices.

Simplicity and sustainability

Alfred explains that the greatest value that Engineers without Borders Netherlands brings to their Sovu partners isn’t high-level engineering. In fact, the solutions for fixing the pipeline and providing reliable water access were very simple.

The greatest success of this project to date is that the old existing 12 kilometer pipeline is now repaired,” says Alfred. “It’s maintained now by trained local plumbers who are paid by part of the collected fee of the drinking water used and paid per jerrycans by the locals taken from the taps in the rural villages.”

Just as in every Engineers without Borders Netherlands project, it is important that the local community can take ownership of the solution. This is integral to the sustainability of the project. That’s why Alfred says assisting in the implementation of a WASH programme is a key next step in helping Sovu.

“Even the teachers at primary school are not fully informed how to set-up such a programme step by step. However, once it is established, the whole project could be easily replicated in additional rural parts of Rwanda or other third-world countries.”

Would you like to help the Water4Sovu team achieve the goal of clean water and sanitation for all the of the local families? Your donation will help with travel expenses and the costs of developing a WASH programme that is sustainable and can be adapted in other rural areas.

On Friday, 5 April 2019, Engineers without Borders Netherlands will hold the second annual Design Challenge in Rotterdam. But, what exactly is the event? And, is it something for you?

Here are 5 reasons not to miss the 2019 Design Challenge.

Your input could make a big impact

The annual one-day Design Challenge was launched after EWB-NL noticed many proposed projects were stalling before they could get off the ground. The local partners faced major obstacles that needed innovative and sustainable solutions.

During the Design Challenge on 5 April, EWB-NL will utilise the expertise of diverse working groups and tackle pressing project challenges-hackathon-style. The projects involve sustainable development in clean water accessibility (SDG 6), affordable and clean energy (SGD 7), and biomass valorization. Solutions uncovered during the one-day challenge have the potential to make a long-lasting, positive impact in communities worldwide.

People sitting in groups at tables working together

It isn’t just for engineers

Even though ‘engineers’ is in our name, our projects involve volunteers from a variety of professional backgrounds. The Design Challenge is no different. We also need participants with expertise in finance, business, sustainability- and other areas- to help us find holistic solutions to overcoming project barriers.

Participants of all disciplines have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the social aspects in engineering and the importance of a business model while getting to know inspiring people.

People sitting at tables and working in groups. Two women are talking in the group

It’s not just challenging, it is also fun

Participants will be divided into teams. There are four challenges and teams will compete against each other per challenge. At the end of the day, the teams will pitch their solutions and a jury will select the winning concept for each challenge.

The event is fast-paced, exciting, and the end results are often surprising. In addition to problem solving, there will be time for networking with professionals from all across the Netherlands. Coffee, lunch, drinks, and a storytelling workshop are all included during the event.

Four men sitting at a table, laughing and talking

The event is also an EWB-NL fundraiser

Even if your team’s solution doesn’t get chosen by the jury, your participation will still be a contribution to the projects. All revenues from the event registration fees will be used for initiating projects based on the winning solutions. If you register before 10 March, the cost is EUR 110 per person. After 10 March, the cost is EUR 125 for each entry.

Your involvement doesn’t have to stop there

The winning teams will be invited to develop their concept and implement the solution in collaboration with the organisations that submitted the challenges. So, you will not only participate in an event, you will also have the chance to deliver a concrete project with real benefits for local communities.

Are you up for the challenge? Don’t wait too long to sign up! There is only room for 80 participants in the 2019 Design Challenge.

Want to see what to expect during the Design Challenge? Watch this after movie from 2018.

Financing of the EWB NL projects is often a large challenge. Enabling the financing from in-house resources will speed up the projects and increase our impact.

EWB is looking to finance their projects by the set-up a not-for-profit revolving impact fund. The revolving impact fund will finance the innovative small ticket size projects, executed by EWB NL. These small tickets sizes (25-125k) are normally not commercially financed because of high risk and relatively high time investment needed. The financial means will be requested from subsidies and as donations from companies (supported by the EWB partnerships team). The risk of the investments will be minimized by the high involvement of the EWB engineers in the projects.

Main activities

EWB is looking for creative professionals with finance experience, preferably with experience in setting-up (revolving) funds and/or financing in Africa. You will work in a small team to set-up the structure for a pilot fund and work with other teams in the EWB organisation to promote the fund and obtain the financial means. Once the first round fund is proven to be successful, EWB NL will set-up a larger fund based on the lessons learnt. The set-up of the fund is a key strategic point for 2019 and is critical for the growth of EWB NL and to increase our impact. Therefore you will work closely with the board of EWB NL and throughout the organisation and support us in pitching of the idea at different parties (eg companies, government, NGOs).

Applicant requirements

  • Has to be located in Rotterdam or Eindhoven area
  • Organisational and communication skills
  • Financial background
  • Interest in the EWB projects, our goals and challenges in developing countries. You do not necessarily need to be an engineer, but you should be interested in the projects
  • Your commitment to EWB: available to spend ~4h/week, available to meet at least once per month in Eindhoven or Rotterdam.

All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and commit to this.

Job Description
In Engineers Without Borders, our volunteers are a key asset to implement our projects: without their time and knowledge, EWB NL would not be possible. With them we share the enthusiasm and passion about making a positive change with long lasting impact. In order to match the open positions with the best candidate, we need a recruiting coordinator to join our HR team in Eindhoven.

Main activities

  • Write and post vacancies regarding the Eindhoven roles in the website
  • Contact applicants and arrange interviews for project vacancies in order to connect vacancies to potential fitting candidates
  • Maintain the Eindhoven volunteers database

Applicant requirements

  • Has to be located in Eindhoven area
  • Organisational and communication skills
  •  People person: enjoys and is good at interacting with others
  • Working experience in HR is highly welcome
  • Interest in the EWB projects, our goals and technical challenges in developing countries. You do not necessarily need to be an engineer, but you should be interested in the projects
  • Your commitment to EWB: available to spend ~4h/week, available to meet at least once per month in Eindhoven

All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and commit to this.

Due to the political conflicts since 2014, Yemen is suffering from electricity shortage not only in remote and rural areas but also in major cities. This negatively affects all basic services including health systems, education centers and universities. All public and civil infrastructure that depend on electrical power suffer from very frequent shutdown.

Kumwe Harvest is a new, post-harvest processor of maize, founded in Rwanda with the aim of improving the lives and incomes of smallholder farmers by innovating the post-harvest process and linking farmers to higher value commercial markets as a result.

Niger is one of the least-developed and poorest nations in the globe, according to the latest report on Human Development Index, UNDP.
Two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, surviving on less than 1 dollar per day and hunger is a daily issue for many families. With about 80% of land area enveloped within the Sahara Desert, the country is affected by droughts, desertification and most lately floods. Most of the population consists out of subsistence farmers, living in the rural area. The harsh weather and poverty has resulted in parents not able to sustain their children and their own basic living needs.

Following two recent civil wars and the Ebola crisis, Liberia is now in the midst of recovery and rebuilding. This west African country is home to 4.7 million people and began as a settlement of freed and free-born slaves who left the United States in pursuit of freedom and prosperity. Today, young people in Liberia are pursuing opportunities to improve their lives and their country.

“As a result of the civil wars, not only the physical infrastructure, but also the cultural infrastructure was damaged,” explains Joost de Bont, an architect with the Engineers without Borders – Netherlands (EWB-NL) Kriterion Monrovia project.

Jobs are scarce – especially for young, inexperienced graduates. That’s one reason why a group of students in Monrovia, the country’s capital city, began to dream of an independent cinema operated entirely by students.

“The young students that founded Kriterion Monrovia want to create a better future for themselves and their country,” Joost says. “By creating this place and managing it themselves, Kriterion Monrovia will pave the way for the regeneration of Monrovia as a city as well as its culture.”

engineering students in Monrovia sit in a classroom listening during a workshop held by EWB-NL
EWB-NL conducts a workshop with engineering students in Monrovia

Film inspiration

For more than a decade, the Kriterion Monrovia team has travelled their country, organising movie screenings in local communities. The students noticed that the novelty and excitement of films relaxed and inspired people.

The students envisioned a cinema which could also serve as a cultural hub, with space for art, music, debate and social gathering in their capital city. Additionally, young Liberians could fund their studies and gain experience by working in the cinema.

Kriterion Monrovia raised tens of thousands of dollars to turn their dream into a reality. They also teamed up with the Young Urban Achievers (YUA), a Dutch NGO. When it came time to find a suitable location for the cinema and create a building design, YUA asked for assistance from Engineers without Borders – Netherlands.

“Working on the art-house cinema building in Liberia is a very exciting task, full of new discoveries and lessons,” says architect Emilija Juodyte. “The motivation and energy of the Kriterion Monrovia team makes me believe in the importance and the future of this project.”

A dream becomes a design

The EWB-NL team recently delivered the concept design for the art-house cinema. The building will be constructed close to the national university, a location fitting for a student run project. Emilija and Joost also visited Monrovia to study the building site, hold workshops with stakeholders, and learn about local building techniques.

EWB-NL and Kriterion Monrovia measure the future site of the art house theater
EWB-NL and Kriterion Monrovia measure the future site of the art house theater

This information gathering was instrumental in the team’s ability to create a design which pleased all the stakeholders. Joost also attributes the team’s diverse backgrounds with their success. “We really developed this project in a collaborative way, not only with the client and other stakeholders involved, but also very much with the different disciplines in our team.”

EWB-NL team members contributed expertise in project management, structural engineering, architecture, and even the entertainment industry. “I think in the process we managed to involve everyone in every single part of the project.”

Setting the stage

The building concept incorporates local design elements such as commonly used decorative breeze blocks in the facade. It will also include a solar panel system in the building to power the building as much as possible. The team says the solar energy capabilities are “a wonderful addition in a sun-drenched city where power blackouts are very common.”

The Kriterion Monrovia team has a long list of possibilities for the building’s use beyond film screening – such as event and conference space, exhibitions, offices, and a bar. The EWB-NL engineers and architects who have worked alongside Kriterion Monrovia describe their partnership and work on the project as inspirational and transformational.

The EWB-NL design concept illustrates the various possible uses for the Kriterion Monrovia art-house theater main hall. 

“The building will be the ‘stage’ for cultural exchange within the city, something that they have been working on for many years now and can be proud of once it is fully running. The perseverance and persistent motivation of the Kriterion Monrovia team, to chase their dream, is something that we can all learn a lot from.”

Although the concept design is complete, the work of EWB-NL continues as they support their local partners in Liberia throughout the building process. You can help their efforts with a financial contribution to the Kriterion Monrovia project.

We appreciate EWB-NL Kriterion Monrovia team members Hoessein Alkisaei, Joost de Bont, Emilija Juodyte, Paul Schijfsma, Swaraj Sharma, Jorn te Lintelo, Diana Schaap, Louis Lederwasch, Ana Tisov, Johnny Long, and Austin Osazuwa for their hard work and dedication. Interested in joining Engineers without Borders – Netherlands? View our latest vacancies.

EWB-NL concept design for Kriterion Monrovia front facade includes breeze block elements common in Liberia
EWB-NL concept design for Kriterion Monrovia front facade

In Engineers Without Borders, our volunteers are a key asset to implement our projects: without their time and knowledge, EWB NL would not be possible. With them we share the enthusiasm and passion about making a positive change with long lasting impact. In order to match the open positions with the best candidate, we need a recruiting coordinator to join our HR team.

Main activities:

  • Write and post vacancies in the website
  • Contact applicants and arrange interviews for project vacancies
  • Oversee the volunteers database

Applicant requirements:

  • Organisational and communication skills
  • People person: enjoys and is good at interacting with others
  • Working experience in HR is highly welcome
  • Interest in the EWB projects, our goals and technical challenges in developing countries. You do not necessarily need to be an engineer, but you should be interested in the projects
  • Your commitment to EWB: available to spend ~4h/week, available to meet at least once per week in Rotterdam
  • Has to be located in Rotterdam area


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and commit to this.

Project description

In Togo the electricity rate is only 26%. Most electricity is imported from neighboring countries.  The village Yikpa (300 km from Lomé) and the NGO ‘Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement’ have requested the installation of a 14 kW pico solar power plant to supply the village with electricity. The project will serve as a pilot to demonstrate the feasibility of sustainable minigrids in rural Togo.

Job Description

The current project team has a strong technical profile. They need resources to assist with the necessary non-technical activities, for example:

  • Somebody on the financial side to actively chase up on funding opportunities and to maintain the financial model.
  • Somebody on the operational side of things: marketing, PR, etc.

Applicant Requirements

  • Prior experience in doing  business case/feasibility studies is preferred.
  • Prior experience with any project  related off grid energy systems is preferred.
  • Keen attention to detail, structured and well-organised.
  • Enjoys working in a team.
  • Available ~4h/week to work on the project
  • Assist to the project team meetings in Rotterdam


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and that you commit to this.

Project description

Avolar is one of our partners. They are located in Congo, and during its 26 years of existence have been identifying solutions to improve the living conditions of the local communities.

Due to the local absence of awareness about health and education, the aspect of a balanced diet for the children is normally not taken into account . This leads to problems of malnutrition with certain children. In order to tackle this aspect, Avolar wants to build a reception
center for the restoration of malnourished children. In addition, a program will be set to for giving advice to the families regarding balance diets to avoid malnutrition and create awareness on health and education.

Activities to be supported by EWB

  • Developing a detailed plan and defining the necessary equipment
  • Construction of a building of the reception center for the restoration of malnourished children; kitchen, training room, etc.
  • Project implementation.

Job Description

We are looking for a strong  French speaking Project Manager, preferably with experience in civil engineering  projects, to bring this project to completion together with our local partner organisation. As a Project Manager you manage a multidisciplinary team of EWB engineers in the Netherlands with a strong focus to deliver the project according to FIETS (Financial, Institutional, Ecological, Technical and Social) sustainability criteria. Moreover you are in close contact with our local partner organisation as you will deliver this project together. You guard the quality, budgets and planning. Of course it will not always be easy to work with only volunteers and with the large physical distances, but by organizing the project correctly, motivating your team, ensure an open and clear communication, you know how to get the job done.

Applicant Requirements

Besides experience in engineering project management, you can describe yourself as an entrepreneur with commercial skills: continuity of the (new) projects is no problem for you. Our local partner organisation also needs support in learning how to execute these types of projects and is eager to learn this from you. You have experience in managing projects with multiple stakeholders and as organizer you can make a complex project controllable. As a leader your communication is clear, you can inspire, motivate and captivate people on all levels. You need to be available for a minimum ~4 hours/wk


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and that you commit to this.

In Sovu, Ngorero, in Northwest of Rwanda, there is  a high incidence of WASH-related mortality due to lack of access to drinking water and sanitation facilities, and poor hygiene practices are prevalent.

The total population is estimated to be 5.000 to 6.000 people.

The region needs its current water infrastructure rehabilitated and expanded to meet current needs.

EWB NL will provide technical and engineering support.





There is a lack of off-grid, sustainable energy production and consumption in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) countries. Access to clean and affordable energy (S DG7) by means of setting-up local mini grids will give opportunities to increase agricultural efficiency and introducing powered techniques, improve food security and food safety, increase health and wellbeing, enhance education (to facilitate study in the evening). Next to this, the presence of electricity will reduce the drain of adolescents from rural communities.

Software Designer/ Programmer

Smart Meters Project For Sub Saharan regions

EWB is designing mini grid solutions for multiple regions / countries (e.g. a community in Togo, a community in Madagascar).

For the financial sustainability of the project it is important to have a cheap and reliable payment system for the power in place. In these communities currently pre-paid power is the way to go as it ensures that the electricity is paid for by the consumer. However, the payment systems that make this possible and which are available in the market are either too expensive or a non reliable solution. To make a healthy business case, the required investment in these meters needs to be such that the energy is also affordable for people living on 1 dollar a day.

The goal is to develop a payment system for an off-grid community energy system (microgrid) that is a low cost and reliable prepaid payment solution which can potentially also be used for drinking water or comparable services. The ideal solution considers technical aspects next to the business case and feasibility of the system in the SSA environment.

We are looking for someone with the skills of software / computer programming or has experience in setting up online payment systems who can help in achieving our goal as mentioned above .

Applicant Requirements

  • Experienced as a software engineer/ designer/ programmer
  • Prior experience in online payment systems is preferred.
  • Prior experience in doing  business case/feasibility studies with  softwares is preferred.
  • Prior experience with any project  related off grid energy systems is preferred.
  • Keen attention to detail, structured and well-organised.
  • Enjoys working in a team.


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and that you commit to this.

Would you like to get more information? Contact

Project Execution Plan Workshop Modules Coordinator – Part of Projects

We are looking for someone who can coordinate between different project teams with EWB-NL and work out/arrange project specific courses/ workshop requirements .

Main activities:

  • Coordinate with all the projects team to insure completeness of the project execution plan
  • Manage the current EWB Projects Workshops and courses and update when necessary
  • Add new courses and workshops to the portfolio in order to ensure sufficient support to the project teams
  • Find and match trainers/moderators including subject matter experts
  • Understand EWB projects and adapt the workshops to the project teams needs (different project size and complexity, different project team size)
Applicant Requirements
  • Experience in developing and improving workshops on different themes, especially on project management, cultural awareness and team dynamics
  • Experience as trainer
  • Ability to train trainers is preferred
  • Excellent communication skills


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and commit to this.


Engineers Without Borders has impact because of the energy and enthusiasm of our volunteering engineers and the generosity of our donors and strategic partners.
With our strategic partners we build long term relationships where partners contribute to our work both financially and with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm of their employees.

Main Activities

The partnerships team supports the board member for Partnerships with:

  • Identifying and connecting with companies willing to enter into new strategic partnerships
  • Giving presentations to companies and identifying opportunities for co-operation as partners
  • Maintaining the relationship with these partners
  • Coordination with these partners on support of their engineers in EWB project

Applicant Requirements

Experience in the activities described above are very welcome. But above all, we need team players with the drive to make a successful team.

We need new members of the partnership for the following locations:

  • Rotterdam area
  • Eindhoven area


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and that you commit to this


Togo! I had no idea this would be the location for one of the greatest experiences of my student life. I have done my internship for the NGO ‘Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement’ to help them building a minigrid in a secluded area, powered by solar energy. The mini-grid will provide for the basic electric needs of 3 villages with about 220 households.

The start-up phase of such enterprise is a challenge. The cultural differences, development level and language have proven to make it a high-pressure learning environment. I had to talk to government officials on regulations, talk to market people about prices of construction parts, perform ground measurements in the jungle and I organised a workshop with the locals about the possibilities of using electricity. For a suburban boy with low French skills, this was really fun to try and gave me a very strong sense of accomplishment when I achieved the smallest of things.

It is in an environment like this, where a toddler promptly starts crying when he sees his first white man, that you learn the basis of any successful project. You need to engage the community to work with you. It’s their project and without them on board or being enthusiastic about it, it’s like dragging a boulder across the ocean floor. You’ll drown. Whereas when you get them to work with you, it almost feels as if the project is already done (this bubble bursts quickly afterwards). From a technical point of view, it is extremely interesting to find the delicate balance of (high-tech) efficiency, low costs, ease of use and social impact of the design.

Looking back, the project has taught me a lot about the social aspects of engineering: how important is local ownership so the community can build, operate and maintain the solution themselves, long after the project is closed with EWB NL and it can serve as an example for other communities, thus giving them greater chances of development!

I learned what life is like in such a country and I have met some very special people from this completely different culture.

It has been a great experience that I could never have got anywhere else!

We’re looking for Graphical Designers to help us creating easy to read maintenance manuals for our projects.

Main activities

We need people who can translate maintenance procedures of our technical solutions into easy diagrams and symbols.

Keep in mind that language is often a barrier in our projects so your very important assignment is to make complex tasks look easy using visuals.

Can you perform this magic?

We’re looking for you: you’re essential to make our projects successful!


All the openings at Engineers without Borders are unpaid volunteer positions. We dedicate our free time to improve life in developing countries and have fun and a great learning experience by doing so. Our only expectation is that you dedicate the amount of free time you feel comfortable with and commit to this.

The team of Water4Oku has now completed two trips to Oku, in the Northwest of Cameroon.

They were welcomed with joy and warmth by the nice people of Oku.

After the first trip in January 2018, Wouter and Alfred proposed a series of quick wins.

The trip in April 2018 aimed at providing the necessary knowledge to proceed with the first recommendations.

The peoples from Oku responded enthusiastically – the picture shows the construction of the “Niek Dam”: a dam made with the materials readily available – rocks and wood – proposed by Niek, one of the team members.

Below is the proud builders team:

As a result the water stream now provides a much needed reservoir:


Schools of the Future was always a different project within EWB NL: it runs by editions, each adjusted to the audience and multiple teams can run it in parallel.
The concept was simple: using hands-on workshops to spark children’s interest for technology and science in developing countries.

The first edition of SoTF ran in Mozambique in 2017 and was well received by most students.

The hands-on workshops (we had a solar car toy for the first edition) were an effective way to keep students engaged while learning. In particular the school Sao Joaquim and its teachers asked for a continuation of the project.

Our pilot reached more than 150 students and allowed us to learn a lot about our audiences.

Now the project has a second edition with a visit to Mozambique in June 2018 – the new toolboxes (calculator, piano, radio) are focused on the schools and grades that can benefit the most from it.

This is just the beginning of a long and ambitious trip: this project is expected to require between 6 and 10 years to be fully developed and transferred to the local community.

There are also plans to export it to other countries – based on the learnings of S0TF Mozambique, a new team is preparing S0TF 2.0 in Uganda – stay tuned to learn more about this exciting project!


Meet the Team!

Second edition in Mozambique, June 2018


Sara Filipa Fagulha Pereira

“Hi! 🙂 My name is Sara and I am a 25 year old Portuguese girl living in Eindhoven. I have studied Chemical and Biochemical Engineering back home, and later I came to the Netherlands to develop my master thesis at TU Delft.

Currently, I work as a Process Engineer for a Chemical Specialities company. At the same time, I dedicate my time to this passionate project – the Schools of the Future – which I found out while searching on how I could make a real difference as an Engineer.

I expect that this project will bring much joy and spark curiosity on the children we will teach, and hopefully inspire them to pursue their studies at a University level. I am sure the upcoming three weeks in Maputo will be a fulfilling experience and it will also teach me back about how to better appreciate the small things in my life.”


Manuel Ribeiro

“Hey everyone! My name is Manuel and I am a Portuguese Engineer living in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands.

I have studied Electrical and Computer Engineering back in Portugal and came here to work after one year of Erasmus at Delft.

At the moment I work as a Software Engineer in a team that is building the electric cars of the future! It is my personal goal to help creating a more sustainable and prosperous future, and for that reason I joined Engineers Without Borders. Here, I am responsible for the technical details of the tools and toolkits we’ll be providing to the students in Mozambique. By designing the circuits of the toolkits, we hope to inspire these students into continuing their studies and see for themselves the importance of a technical background.

We can’t wait to go there and to finally meet these students in person! We are sure it will be a very fulfilling experience and hopefully an important step in their future successful careers!”


Celeste Scharrenberg

“Blue. Something what remains everywhere in my life. My name, the sea, the sky, amazing music by just adding one letter… It does not matter where I am, you see a happy Celeste with these key elements.

Born in The Hague and grown up in Barcelona, the sea accompanies me my entire life. Six years ago I came back to The Netherlands to study Industrial Design Engineering and being able to create all things my mind was up to. This is exactly what I have been doing the last few years: letting different cultures influence my thoughts, point of view and designs! From Austria to Brazil and Mozambique on S0FT Edition 1, I have always felt happy of sharing experiences and getting inspired by other people, amazing places and ways of working.

Schools of the Future came in my path at the right moment, just after my bachelor graduation in February 2017, when I was thinking about my next step. Being able to make an impact with young students gave me the motivation to start working with Engineers Without Borders. Since then I try to put my share to improve the environment and allow social empowerment where it’s really needed.

As a design engineer I look at challenges from another perspective, which allows me to bring valuable solutions. Combining this approach with the rest of the engineering disciplines in the team makes us complete and allows us to bring together this enjoyable toolkits to the young students in Mozambique.

I am very excited to be there again and to fulfil my heart with more amazing experiences with the lovely students, teachers and neighbours in Maputo.”


Susana Amorim Lopes

Susana is from Valença, in the North of Portugal.
She is a Biomedical Engineer. SoTF came to her as “a good fit with my scientific and technological background”.
She’ll enrich the project with her willingness to materialize ideas, hands-on work mentality and her drive for change.
She expects SoTF will allow her to learn new skills, gain real-world experiences in the field, play an active part in the sustainable development of a community, explore, be inspired, positively impacting someone’s life while impacting her own.
In the photo she’s on her way to Santiago de Compostela, 5 days walking from her hometown.


Luís Pedro Oliveira

Luis is also from Valença, in Portugal. Luis has a bachelor in Economics and Master in Finance. After working two years at Deloitte, he is currently working in an Accelerator of startups (Venture Capital field).

“Two years ago I had a work experience in Angola that allowed me to visit some Universities and be aware of the education system situation in the country. I was impressed by the conditions students and teachers had, which were clearly very different from what we have in Europe. I found Mozambique’s education system was lacking fundamental resources to educate and prepare students to the labour market and evenfor life.
I believe EWB NL, and in particular the SoTF project, has the potential to improve the lives of many young students by providing (technical and practical) information they would not have otherwise. That is why I decided to join and be part of this journey”

“I will be giving a workshop on personal and business finance, providing clear examples and tips about how they should manage money during their personal or professional lives.”

“I believe this project will allow me to be aware of the conditions many people live in and to have somehow impact in improving their access to information.”

In the photo Luis was in Angola travelling to the interior of the country (trip to Malanje; Kalandula falls)


We wish the Team a good trip and experience, full of successes and stories to share with us!



On its second anniversary, EWB NL welcomes new Board Members!

Meet Alejandro (Projects & People), Georgiana (Projects) and Marcia (Partnerships)!


Alejandro Hahn

I am chemical engineer working in the harbour of Rotterdam.

I joined EWB NL because I want to make use of my time and knowledge to create a positive impact in the world. Being part of the Foundation is one the best ways of achieving this while at the same time enjoying working with such a great team.

Georgiana Stan

I am a chemical engineer as background, working and living in The Netherlands for 5 years.

I joined EWB NL to use my knowledge and skills for improving the life of people in developing countries. EWB NL is giving me the chance to develop professionally, personally and at the same time contributing and having an impact.

Marcia Krishnan

I am Chemical Engineer who has spent 13 years working in FMCG for a chocolate company, in both manufacturing and research and development roles.
I joined EWB NL as a way of meeting like-minded people in the Netherlands and use my engineering skills to do some good in the world.
I bring experience in working in developing countries, innovation project management, building strategic partnerships and a passion for coaching and team building.


We’re excited to get them on board and work together for a very successful 2018!









“Saudade” is known to be a Portuguese word of very difficult translation to English, meaning something like the feeling of longing, melancholy… a need you cannot exactly pinpoint. You’d feel it when you think you should be back to a place, for instance.

Our Schools of the Future Team has returned from Mozambique with a suitcase full of stories and some “saudade”.

Please find below their experiences, as they told them to me. No edition this time, enjoy!

Andreia Veiga, Secretary EWB-NL Foundation



Being in Mozambique was an unforgettable experience. In spite of the short stay, I brought with me 1000 adventures, tons of stories to tell and a melted heart for all the care with which we were treated and all the warm that we received. The best of all, was the bond with the students. It was trully inspiring to the see their smile and joy of acomplishment when the car and their inventions were working. I think the images below speak for themselves!

The worse was to leave without knowing if our presence and the activities that we did together had an impact on the students lives, in a long term prespective. For them, the workshop was a unique opportunity and a chance to get a better life. I hope their expectations will be met.

Every little task there for us was an adventure, from going back to the city in a small van ‘chapa’ with 20 people inside, to negociate with street sellers or even to find a nice place to eat Matapa (National traditional dish)! The funniest adventure was when we travelled to Macaneta. In our way back the fuel of the boat finished, we then had to row back to the coast. After arriving safely to the coast the most troubled part of the journey was still to come. Our driver had been in a series of weddings the entire day. As expected he had drunk a bit too much and was enjoying pleasurable company ;). To complicate a bit more the situation his car had some mechanical problems.. Indeed you need to be ready for the unexpected.


EWB team taking the chapa to go home!



The wish to do good is the main motivation when engaging in a volunteering project. Therefore the best reward for the entire effort is when the immediate effects are postive, and they were as all the kids liked to participate in the workshops! In a more selfcentered point of view, the whole trip was the closest thing to an epic adventure that I ever experienced. The environment, the culture, the ways of living and working, the language, everything was new to me. As a french native, portuguese is only a second language.

The whole trip has been nicely disconcerting, shaking up my beliefs!

The worse is for me associated with the takeaway lessons. I think it may have been naive to initially think the contrary but the action of one iteration has no impact in the long term. It is just a very nice and exotic entertainment for the kids. The worse might be that the impact on the long term is conditioned to multiple and efficient visits over time, and this is just to create a possibility for long term effects, it might still not work out. A change in the Mozambican society would even require larger scale action. This really leaves you wondering if this is the best way to help them, which is good I think, always good to think more.

The funniest is very hard to describe I must say. This is highly dependant on the situation and our mood at that time. I will definitely remember the first contact with the national dish ‘Matapa’ and the vietnamese hot pot experience in Maputo!


The boat which took us to Macaneta!



During our time in Maputo we have seen many impacting things. For example, classrooms that are so crowded that at the end of the class you have to move the tables on the side to allow students exit the space. The same happened with the chapas, the public transport vans which were normally loaded with twice as people as allowed. This overcrowd seemed to be normal and everybody was calmly going on to reach their destinations.

For a big part of the local people, watches are mere decoration accessories which give the final touch to their outfit or an extra distinctive look. Some mornings, schools were emptier than normal due to the delay of big amount of students. Afterwards we got to know it was due to the weather and the unusual darkness caused by foggy or heavily cloudy days. In these situations kids look through the window and don’t relate the light with the morning as they are used to and keep sleeping. Time consciousness is considerably different from what we are used to. But what impacted me the most above all, was the people. With a little chat and a smile with them you created already an immense connection and they began happily talking about themselves, even inviting you to their homes to taste their favourite Mozambican meal or to see their new capulana, a traditional Mozambican fabric, they were going to use for the dress for the wedding of their brother. Amazing. Even the ones that have much less can look at life with the eyes of happiness and enjoying the little things such as the rhythm of the music coming out of one tent of the Mercado Central or from just having a chat with the woman next to her which is selling oranges and lemons (which, by the way, look so different than our lemons!).

This behaviour was also present in our students. All happy, energetic but mainly very respectful to us, the four engineering teachers. You could feel their gratefulness in those intense brown eyes looking at you while you speak loudly for the entire class. Their creativity and motivation undertaking the different tasks and overcoming the obstacles that were presented was very inspiring. How we all, at the end of the workshop, were making music sharing our different cultures through rhythm, through sung words, through even movements in the form of a dance was wonderful.

Of course all this in their own way and within their possibilities. The extent to which they participated was dependent on many factors. Some related to the content of the workshop, other related to their age and other related to their economical, familiar and personal situation. Also dependent on the day. There were issues that fell out of our reach. Things that we normally do not deal with and where the understanding of the situation is difficult for whom has not experienced it. When studying and striving to be the best of yourself is not just depending on your effort but also on extreme external influences which you have to deal with. Having to sell almonds on street to be able to afford the dinner meal for you and your siblings, being beaten by your father when things are not going well at home or suddenly realizing you are pregnant affects the way you face challenges and the mood you bring to school. Totally comprehensible. But because of the same reason, it is sometimes useless to set so much effort trying to bring a student to the technical university because, at the end, their personal situation won’t allow it. The impact is much higher when the families are supporting the student and helping them create the right environment to be able to focus on that.

All this experiences have brought me a lot, professionally and personally. Life looks a bit different now here back in The Neth  erlands. I am very thankful for all the opportunities that I have had just because I have been born in the ‘right’ place and I will try to give my bit back to society in the way I can. Always keeping in mind those kids, those people and those incredible places in Mozambique. And for sure, those amazing people of Engineers Without Borders that make these kind of projects possible. Thank you all!

Celeste also maintains a blog here.


Andreia’s comment: Working in Development rarely produces immediate visible long term effects. One can see those in Humanitarian Disaster Relief operations, for instance.

One of the many challenges to work in Development is that you need an approach of “plant the seeds and wait some of them bloom”.

It’s very likely that you never realise the true impact you actually brought. When we, at EWB NL, first thought about this project, we thought that sparking the wish and capability to change the world around you, as opposite to not questioning why certain things work in a certain way, was a very good start.

The Foundation is committed to have future editions of the Schools of the Future.

We believe in long term impact!


Getting together to support Technical Education

On the last Sunday of March, the EWB project Schools of the Future has hosted a fund raising dinner in Eindhoven. We welcomed more than 120 people at this very successful evening. Surrounded by the great atmosphere and food of Le Connaisseur, we have raised awareness for the educational situation in Mozambique and how Schools of the Future can have a positive and sustainable impact.

Our NGO partner at Mozambique, AVSI, has shown us immense support and this evening was no exception. Besides the very insightful  short documentary regarding Mozambique latest developments and necessary next steps in education for science and technology , we were also able to conduct a live meeting through skype with their chairman.

We feel very thankful for everyone interest in the project Schools of the Future, including support from EWB board, AVSI, our Schools of the Future project members and friends, and of course, to all the guests of this remarkable evening! Thank you for your time and interest!

It is already at the end of May that the first volunteers from EWB NL will arrive at Mozambique. Curious about who they are? Check their introductions here.

Money raised will go for the last items at our budget list, the shipping of the toolboxes to Mozambique, a lunch for the 150 students attending, and flight tickets for the volunteers.

During the dinner we shared with our guests some of the toolboxes which will be brought and taught during Schools of the Future time at Mozambique.

Big thanks to all the project members from Schools of the Future and EWB board which made this event come alive!


Clean water is what the villagers in the Oku area, in the NorthWest of Cameroon, desperately need as they still get seriously ill due to consumption of unclean water.

The large area, which includes 17 villages where more than 90000 people live, has an old water infrastructure that didn’t grow with the population needs. It also hasn’t had much-needed maintenance due to lack of local technical knowledge and to missing a sustainable income source to afford it.

EWB NL has partnered with a local NGO, Camaay – Cameroon Association of Active Youths, to help address the technical issues and to support the creation of a sustainable model that can keep the water infrastructure in the future.

Do you think everybody should have access to clean water? So do we!

We want to send two engineers to the field to assess the data we have so far gathered remotely and to provide technical training.

We have the time and the skills but we lack funds!

At the moment we’re looking to raise 2900 EUR to cover the logistics of a field visit!

YOUR help will allow us to go to the field thus giving us the possibility to create a much bigger impact!

Help us help by donating to:

Stichting Ingenieurs Zonder Grenzen

NL69 RABO 0192 3575 73

please refer Water4Oku on the details!

or by using PayPal – please refer Water4Oku : follow the red button “donate” on the top of this page.

The people of Oku thank you in advance!

EWB NL thanks you for helping us help!

Follow the project here!

Our Schools of the Future project is becoming a reality, and a team of engineers is travelling to Mozambique at the end of May. Wonder who they are? Here they share with you bits and pieces of themselves:


“I was born in the Netherlands and raised in Spain, I always loved to get to know new cultures and the incredible places of our planet since I was very young. Amazed about the capacity of adaptability of all living beings, nature has been inspiring me not just in my career but in my entire life.

During my bachelor in industrial design engineering I have been focused on society, people and its environment, trying to make a positive impact with my creations using sustainable approaches and including the users in the entire design process. The project Schools of the Future fits perfectly with my previous experience and with the idea I have formed of how I want my volunteering experience to be. Bringing science and technology to young students in an interactive way will make them enjoy learning and trigger them to deepen more in this area. This is not just positive for the educational value of this students but for the progress of the country itself as well.”


“I am Joana, a 25 years old Portuguese Biomedical Engineer. Currently I am in The Netherlands doing my PhD. Besides science, I love to travel, to read, to make new friends and I am really passionate about nature. I truly believe that the intercultural contact and ‘Learning by Doing’ approaches are the best ways to share knowledge and to spark interest in young creative minds. I am really excited to be part of the Schools of the Future project and to board in this adventure to Mozambique!”


“My name is Charles, I was born in Marseille in France almost 30 years ago. I grew up in a family of five. I went to school to become an engineer with specialization in optical sciences. Right now I am finishing my PhD studies in the Netherlands. I am grateful that my education gave me the opportunity to discover the world. I already lived in five different countries and I am more or less able to speak the same number of languages. I believe that education and contact with others are a the best way to develop oneself, and I saw Schools of the Future project as a great opportunity to follow this belief and an even greater way to transfer knowledge.”

We wish them the best of luck and inspiration in their new, fulfilling adventure!

Health&Safety is an important topic in our everyday life: we intuitively evaluate the risks associated with a certain situation, think how we can mitigate them and assess if the outcome is still worth it.


To carry out its projects, EWB NL Foundation has set up a formal framework with checklists and procedures to address every project using our internally defined standards. We take Health&Safety very seriously and we consider safe execution as a pre-condition to every project. 


Identify Risks

We all know it is virtually impossible to reduce all risks to zero in most life situations and that includes our projects. This is why it is very important to identify the potential hazards, assess the associated risk and introduce mitigation measures to reduce that same risk to acceptable levels.

EWB NL Foundation runs projects around the world, which introduces some specific challenges as safety awareness and risk perception of local partners and financial resources for safety measures.

As responsible for HSE&Compliance, I have put together a reference manual that has been used to check every project run by the Foundation. The processes defined in the manual include the execution of a risk assessment and the development of a project specific HSE Plan.


Preparing for traveling

Before the journey, I sit with the traveling project member and we perform a risk assessment. The hazards we discuss are extensive and based on the country (e.g. transport, riots), project activities (e.g. electrocution, working at height), and other topics (e.g. heatstroke, poisonous animals, hygiene). For each of the identified hazards we define the preventive or mitigating measures which are already in place or are additionally required. As a premise we do not execute activities that carry high risks to our volunteers, and we follow the recommendations on traveling from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Despite our efforts on identifying and evaluating the risks in advance, it is possible that a specific risk is overlooked. For that reason we focus also on the Last Minute Risk Assessment (LMRA), a  technique that is widely used in the industry. In short, this method comes down to: before you do something take a step back and quickly evaluate what the risks are.


H&S in practice!

For example, in one of our projects we identified upon arrival that most of the public transportation was done on the back of a motorbike. On a call, the traveling team member and I evaluated the risks and alternatives and decided to purchase a helmet for him and for all volunteers who would follow him.


Staying Safe

For 2017 my plan is to maintain and continuously improve the Health&Safety management systems we have in place. In addition we have started processes to give more focus to the environmental aspect of H&S in our projects and to raise the Health&Safety awareness of the local communities as an integrated part of our projects.


Maarten Vriezen, is Board Member of the EWB NL Foundation. He is responsible for Health, Safety & Environment and Compliance within EWB NL and its projects. Maarten studied Mechanical Engineering and has, since his graduation (longer than he would like to admit), been an international consultant on Safety&Risk Management.


Working with different cultures is always challenging but most times is also incredibly rewarding!

Ownership – Empowering People

It has been some months now that Melchior Huijts has been working with the NGO Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) via EWB NL on a  small power plant in the village of Yikpa, in Togo – you can find a previous blog post here. The population has longed for affordable and reliable electricity and despite everybody agrees this small power plant can solve  part of that problem, it is not clear who will maintain the plant once we’re gone.

Sustainability in projects

EWB NL believes on a sustainable approach to projects, in particular, we apply the FIETS criteria:

Projects have to be Financially, Institutionally, Environmentally, Technically and Socially Sustainable.

For this particular project, this means the locals will eventually maintain the solution themselves, which is the only sustainable long-run option and implies local ownership  (that we have supported and incentivized since day 1) and technical knowledge (that we pass on and ensure it stays).

This means a project like this needs full support and commitment from the population that benefits from it. Melchior Huijts found that an engineering solution by itself won’t bring what people need so he also had to use his soft skills to engage people to actively support and contribute to the project they have requested help for.

An engineer also needs soft skills sometimes!

For this Melchior, together with his local colleague and the president of the Development Committee, organized a workshop with three local villages to empower them regarding the plant. Men and women gathered under the protective shadow of the big tree, to talk  about a future where electricity would not only light the dark night, but also cool medicines in the hospital or feed a mill to grind different kinds of vegetables for flour or support new small businesses.

The money currently spent on batteries and gasoline for generators will then be available to maintain the sustainable pico hydro plant. With a more reliable source of electricity, appliances can then be considered.

The event went on with different perspectives and great participation, under the guidance of the Development Committee. People were happy and Melchior foresees more events like this in the near future!

Already over three months have passed since I returned from the remote village of Andavadoaka in Madagascar to work on a 60kW solarpark. As a 23-year-old mechanical engineering student, I do not believe there are many who can say the same. My name is Arnoud Kramer and although last February I was ready to start my master thesis at the TU Delft, I wasn’t truly ready for that. What I wanted first was an experience and that is exactly what I got.

Through students4sustainability I found an organisation, EWB-NL, that uses technology to help people who are less familiar with it. Through technology we, EWB-NL, can help societies living in poverty to help themselves, whether it is through electricity, water treatment or waste management. That is why I joined EWB-NL, because they are looking ahead, not just to the coming year, but to the coming decade.

Of course, working in a remote African village has taught me a lot of useful skills as an engineer. For example I started to learn to use whatever I had lying around, since ordering any component takes months to reach the village. Also, for the first time, I truly experienced the importance of proper communication, because through language and cultural barriers it’s impossible to function without extremely clear and structured communication.

Although this will be a great addition to my skillset, there is something completely different that I take away from this project personally: I will never again forget all the things I took for granted every single day. That I do not have to fill my buckets with water outside the village in the well, that I do not have to worry about getting enough firewood to cook or get warm or that I do not have to do number two on the beach without any means to wipe.

I will never forget the first shower I had when I returned from the project; the fresh, warm water on my back, which must be the best shower I ever had.

My most cherished memories will be those of the mornings in Andavadoaka. Everyday I woke up around 6.00, when the first light hit the sky. I grabbed a fresh orange, stepped outside on the beach and walked just 100 metres onto the rocks at the end of the bay. From there I could see the sunrise, the clear ocean with the first pirogues setting sail for a day of fishing and the beautiful small village slowly coming to live. Somehow that beauty and simple serenity can no longer be found here.

I do not want to imply that it has been a project for me with only ups and not a single down. There has been a moment when my motivation dropped to a low after receiving yet another message that the local logistics had failed me. Nevertheless, when I look around me, talk to the people, envision the perfect solarpark, there are always other things that can be done.

Find out more about the eosol project


My name is Melchior Huijts, an aerospace engineering student from the Delft University of Technology nearing the end of his Master’s programme.

Already for a long time I have wanted to use my technical mindset and skills for helping people to change their ways of living into ways that live in cooperation with the environment and bring well being without compromising the environment.

So when my friend Arnoud told me about his EOSOL project in Madagascar (of EWB-NL too!) I was sold and wanted to be involved in something alike.

On the website I looked at all the other current projects and I got interested in the Pico Hydro Power Project in the small community of Yikpa in Togo.

One thing lead to another and now I am in Togo collaborating with the NGO Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) (headquartered in Lome) to help Yikpa. They want to get rid of their diesel-fueled generators and use hydro and solar power to give electrical power to their communities. This will require a small off-grid solution, that will also be designed taking into account future growth. Important for this project is also that the ownership of the project will be with the community such that they can construct, operate and maintain it themselves and it can serve as an example for other communities.

Many things are still unknown and many (literally and figuratively speaking) boulders lie ahead to be worked with or around, so in short,

I’m in for an adventure!

Find out more about the Pico hydro power project

Small Scale Mining of precious stones creates many opportunities for the local community, but it is also linked to several problems like environmental damage, child labor and armed conflict. We are working with a partner in Côte d’Ivoire to explore possible technical solutions.

In the Oku region in Cameroon water is often collected from surface and odds of contamination are high.

The region has been offered water systems in the 80s but the locals are not trained on how to maintain them. In many villages, the population outgrew the capacity of the installed systems.

Here, people still get severely ill from consuming unsafe water.


EWB-NL is currently growing. We have projects in various locations in the world. Our projects are engineering based with a strong focus on local ownership by our partner organisations. The successful completion of our projects is not only driven by the quality of our engineering skills, but also on our experience with the non-technical elements of a project. Our current projects vary from rural electrification and water management to the construction of a local cinema.

Each project involves a business case that we develop together with our local partners. Besides we look into the financial, institutional, ecological, technical and social (FIETS) sustainability of a project. The Business Impact Team supports the project teams and local partners in the non-technical aspects of our projects with a focus on the development of business / social models and financing mechanisms.

Within our Business Impact Team we aim to develop our knowledge about these elements in the coming year in order to support our projects teams when developing and executing projects.
Therefore EWB-NL is currently looking to expand its Business Impact Team with a new member. We are looking for a person with proven experience in financing of initially small scale projects in developing countries (<100k). The position would involve:

– Support project teams, organise workshops for the project teams in FIETS topics

– Support local partners in arranging the project financing, financial modelling based on financing requirements

– Review the business pitches of the project teams during the Meet & Greet events and provide them with feedback

– Possible visit to project locations

– Residence in the Netherlands

Hydrological restoration in two target areas (a series of villages north of Seguela, and Tortiya in Côte d’Ivoire) that result from small-scale diamond mining. Artisanal and small-scale mining typically involves non-mechanized extraction of diamondiferous gravel by individuals or groups. Collectively the impact can be very consequential.

Together with our partner Eosol in Madagascar we run this project to improve the current installed 60 kW solar mini-grid system to make it long-term sustainable and apply the knowledge of how to successfully develop off-grid sustainable energy projects to other EWB projects.

We are working with Kriterion Monrovia, a University based non-governmental Liberian organization, on the establishment of an ArtHouse cinema to promote local cultural exchange, provide a cinema space and offer part-time jobs to young college students from Liberia.

EWB-NL is working with the local organization JVE in Togo and the Yikpa village community who requested our assistance / technical expertise in setting up an offgrid solar energy system and micro-grid as a social impact venture.

The Schools of the Future project aims to empower teenagers in developing communities in Mozambique through technical education and entrepreneurship. We provide resources for transferring technology to these communities, such as inspiring hands-on workshops, with correspondent tools, manuals and training. In this way we aspire to spark interest and joy in science and technology and to foster the necessary foundations for technical and societal development.