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Sharing knowledge, shaping the future

How engineering know-how creates new perspectives

"It's just great for me to see that people are so excited about electricity and lighting and also that I have applied the knowledge I have acquired. It's very motivating." This is how Paul Nyuoh from Cameroon describes his experiences with Engineers without Borders Germany. Paul built micro hydroelectric power stations in his home village on his own after attending a training course for Engineers without Borders Germany. Previously there was no power supply there. Paul's story shows how the credo "share knowledge, shape the future" can be put into practice.

Knowledge sharing is an essential part of the work of Engineers without Borders, which aims to involve and motivate the local population to continue the projects independently. This also applies to the maintenance of built infrastructure, for example. This is to ensure that the impact of the missions is as long-term as possible. The non-profit organisation Engineers without Borders Germany has been in existence for 15 years. During this time, mainly volunteers worked in over 30 countries. Among other things, bridges, schools and water supply systems were built there. Most of the projects are now bundled into programmes in order to work more efficiently.

A lack of water supply, overcrowded or missing classrooms and inadequate sanitary facilities mean that many children in the Global South do not finish school. The programme "Basic Supply for Schools" therefore aims to improve learning conditions in these countries. In Harare, Zimbabwe, Engineers without Borders Germany has been building a school campus for around 1,000 students since 2016. In the meantime several classrooms have been built and more are under construction. The project is expected to be completed in 2022. In Kasala, Uganda, Engineers without Borders was able to implement the water supply for a school with an attached health centre. In addition to repairing an old well and drilling a new one, hygiene training courses were held and a hand washing station was built. The sanitary situation at the school has thus been significantly improved. Plans for the next few years include the electrification of 33 schools in Bangladesh, the complete water supply for a school with around 1,900 pupils in Rwanda and the sanitation of a school with around 1,600 pupils in Ethiopia. 


In the rural areas of Cameroon, more than half of the population has no access to basic water supply; in the case of sanitation more than 80% and hygiene facilities are not available for 90% of the population. Engineers without Borders Germany builds adapted water and sanitation systems there and conducts hygiene training to prevent the outbreak of dangerous diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and diarrhoea. At a school in Bertoua in eastern Cameroon, for example, the construction of a sufficiently large toilet house is planned. At present, 1,300 pupils share only eight toilets. In addition, a constructed wetland and an elevated tank for rainwater are planned to bridge the phases in which the municipal water supply fails. Within the programme "Water and Sanitation for Cameroon" there will also be a supraregional large-scale project with many local partners in order to facilitate access to adequate water and sanitation services under hygienic conditions for as many people as possible in the long term.

But Engineers without Borders Germany is not only active abroad. Since 2015, Engineers without Borders has been supporting refugees in Germany in their integration into work and society with a multi-layered offer of specialist language courses and practical workshops. The projects are bundled in the programme "Integration Means Cooperation - Diversity. Language. Technology." Among other things, PC courses and company visits take place in eight German cities. There are also workshops on photovoltaics, water supply and renewable energies, in which small solar and wind power plants are built. Afterwards, some participants complete work placements, others take up engineering studies or continue what they started in their home country. Some graduates are now volunteering with Engineers without Borders Germany and are now leading courses in the integration programme themselves or supporting projects abroad.

In addition to the three programmes, there are still some individual projects. These include, for example, the hydro power plants mentioned at the beginning of this article for the supply of electricity to remote villages in Cameroon, the construction of earthquake-resistant houses in Nepal or the rehabilitation of a health centre in Uganda. The spectrum of projects at Engineers without Borders Germany is as broad as the infrastructural problems that exist in many countries of the world. Of course, a small non-profit organisation on a global scale can only make a small contribution. But in the lives of the people affected, it is a big step forward if, for example, electric light shines in their homes from one day to the next. A lot has also changed in Paul Nyuoh's life through his commitment. He is determined to make the technology of micro-hydropower plants known throughout Cameroon in the coming years. Because, as he says, "there are many other villages in Cameroon that, like my village, still live in darkness."

Engineers without Borders Germany (Ingenieure ohne Grenzen e.V.) was founded in 2003 to carry out a single project, today IOG carries out development projects internationally.
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