Engineers Without Borders launches tsunami reconstruction capital campaign

Volunteer recruiting and fundraising effort by Colorado-based USA chapter of non-profit gears up for long-term tsunami reconstruction effort, earmarking funds for engineering projects to help rebuild overlooked communities affected by the disaster...

LONGMONT, CO, Feb. 16, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- As post-tsunami recovery shifts from immediate relief to long-term reconstruction, Engineers Without Borders - USA (EWB-USA) is rallying both volunteers and resources to help devastated communities begin the difficult and lengthy task of rebuilding their lives. After a funding goal of $7 million is met, the Colorado non-profit organization will mobilize teams of professional engineers to implement reconstruction projects in small villages requesting assistance with basic infrastructure needs.

"When a major disaster strikes, less populated communities often get overlooked by large-scale aid efforts that are usually focused on major cities," explained Cathy Leslie, executive director of the international non-profit based in Longmont, Colo. "All of us involved with EWB-USA are deeply saddened by the incredible devastation and loss of life from the tsunami in Southeast Asia. And while we are not set up to provide emergency relief, we are poised and ready to fill the gap by offering long-term reconstruction assistance for these remote areas."

Dr. Richard Herring, EWB-USA board member and professional engineer, recently returned from Thailand where he met with the Asian Section of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In addition, several EWB-USA professional teams, who have previously worked in the region, are conducting site visits throughout Southeast Asia to assess rebuilding and reconstruction needs. However, many local leaders have expressed the need for a few months' time to plan and prepare for work to begin.

Starting as early as this summer, EWB-USA hopes to commence the first round of grassroots projects -- with an expected two-to-three-month turnaround -- helping rebuild water delivery and wastewater systems, schools, community buildings, housing, medical facilities and power sources in communities of 2,500 people or less.

Since 2000, EWB-USA has successfully implemented low-cost, low-tech engineering projects in more than 70 villages throughout the developing world. Their approach is different from similar organizations in that they include the entire community in the process. To ensure sustainability, teams of volunteer professionals, professors and students work together resolving engineering issues by utilizing appropriate solutions that fit the environment, its people and the culture as well, fulfilling needs identified by the host community.

"Right now, we have professional engineers ready and willing to volunteer their time and expertise in communities affected by the tsunami disaster," said Leslie. "At the same time, we still need to raise money and recruit more engineers to effectively handle the requests we've already received. We can't loose momentum now. It's the key to the entire rebuilding process, which is expected to take several more years."

Engineers Without BordersTM - USA (EWB-USA) is a non-profit organization established in 2000 to help developing areas worldwide with their engineering needs. It helps partner students and professionals to help future engineers become more educated in international issues including capacity building, sustainable development and appropriate technology. As of 2004, EWB-USA had 1,100 members involved in 50 projects located in 22 different countries worldwide -- including Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Thailand, Haiti, Belize, Nicaragua and Peru. Projects involve design and construction of water, wastewater, sanitation, energy and shelter systems. These endeavors are initiated by and completed with contributions from the host community, where local people are trained to operate the systems without further external assistance. This ensures each project is appropriate and self-sustaining. Projects are conducted by student groups that are members of an EWB-USA chapter under the supervision of university faculty and professionals from partnering engineering firms. EWB-USA is also a member of the Engineers Without Borders - International (www.ewb-international.org) network.

To support EWB-USA's tsunami rebuilding efforts, go to www.ewb-usa.org, call 303-772-2723 or send your tax-deductible contribution to EWB-USA, 1880 Industrial Circle, Suite B-3, Longmont, CO 80501.

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For other articles on the subject of relief efforts in South Asia following the Dec. 26 tsunami, see the following earlier reports from this website:
-- YSI aids Indonesian fish farmers, aquaculture industry devastated by tsunami
-- BASF, employees donate $4.9 million to help victims of tsunami in Asia
-- Equipment Manufacturers Respond to Tsunami Relief Efforts
-- TSUNAMI UPDATE: ITT's quick response in Sri Lanka yields quicker results

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