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Engineers Without Borders at UCSB Kenya Project

Goleta, California

Cause Description:
The Kenya project is a partnership between EWB@UCSB, two Santa Barbara NGO's, and a community organization from Kenya called Viagenco. Viagenco (representing the words Lake Victoria Agricultural & Environmental Conservation) was started in 1997 by three men from the Gembe region of Kenya with a vision of improving their community. Gembe is a very poor, rural area of subsistence farmers and the idea was to improve farming practices while conserving the environment. The founders soon discovered, however, that the community was so devastated by health issues such as HIV/AIDS and malaria that there could not be a focus on the environment until these health issues were addressed. Thus, a small health clinic was established in conjunction with nearby government agencies to attempt to meet the needs of the community. In 2004, Viagenco and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara (VNHCSB) became partners through the Foundation of Hospices in sub-Saharan Africa. Viagenco has since been financially assisted by VNHCSB to establish an independent health care program which consists of a small health clinic staffed by a clinical officer, nurse, lab technician, pharmacy technician and support staff. The program also provides home based palliative care to people living with HIV/AIDS and other terminal illnesses, an in-patient facility accommodating about 12 patients for overnight stays and an HIV outreach program which helps to identify and counsel people with HIV. Lastly, it supports children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic and is connected to a local Voluntary Counseling and testing program and a mother-to-child-transmission prevention program. Altogether the clinic serves the 5,000 or so people living in the Gembe region. The need at present is to improve the facility. The clinic buildings are currently made from very basic materials and the clinic lacks clean running water, electricity, and methods for sanitation and waste disposal. In 2007 Viagenco and VNHCSB approached EWB@UCSB and Mark Williams, who heads the Santa Barbara non-profit African Children's Project, to work with Viagenco to rebuild the clinic buildings and put in electrical and water infrastructure. Mark Williams and his organization will do the construction work needed for a new clinic building. EWB@UCSB will design and assist Viagenco and the community with building the electrical, water, and sanitation systems. EWB@UCSB will also provide training for the use and maintenance of these systems. EWB@UCSB raises its own funds for each project that it undertakes. Individual chapters are not funded by EWB-USA. Your donation will help cover the cost of materials needed to build and test the electrical, water and sanitation systems EWB designs and builds for the clinic. Once cost of materials are covered, we use the rest to cover travel costs of team members.

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