EWB-USA’s unique grassroots approach requires that all program proposals come directly from the communities themselves and chapters work with communities for a minimum of five years. This increases the likelihood of success by ensuring that the needs addressed by our chapters are being identified and driven by the community. Several factors are considered before a project is approved:
Community Organization and Involvement - In order for EWB-USA projects to succeed, communities must be highly organized and motivated to contribute to the project. All applications should demonstrate that the community has been actively involved in development of the project proposal. To demonstrate this, applications must include the contact information for an existing community based organization (CBO) that would like to act as the partner for the project. The CBO can come in a number of forms, ranging from a local women’s group to a farming cooperative to a town council.
Scope of work - The project must be within a reasonable scope to be completed by a group of engineering volunteers. We typically collaborate with small communities (100-5,000 residents) on projects that cost well under $100,000 to implement.
Open Access - The proposed project should be openly accessible to all members of the community regardless of race, religion, or social standing. EWB-USA projects must not be used as a means of proselytism.
Long-term Commitment - EWB-USA requires that both our chapters and the communities we work with commit to a five-year partnership. As detailed below, the EWB-USA project process does not provide immediate relief and requires a commitment over the long term. Unfortunately EWB-USA is not in a position to provide emergency humanitarian relief.
Financial Independence - Communities applying for projects must demonstrate the ability to fiscally sustain the project once it has been implemented. While EWB-USA often provides funding for the project implementation, it is the community’s responsibility to create a fund for ongoing maintenance. For example, a community wishing to implement a water project must demonstrate the ability to create a water committee, which will collect monthly fees from community members for maintenance and repair costs. Without the ability to maintain the infrastructure, the project will never succeed.
Every program begins with an assessment trip where the chapter performs a community needs assessment and works with the community to identify their priorities. During the following years the chapter returns to perform further assessment, implementation, training, and monitoring and evaluation trips. Throughout the program community members receive training on the maintenance and operation of their infrastructure and a financial mechanism is established to ensure long-term economic sustainability. The frequency of the trips will depend on the availability of both the chapter and the community and are often contingent on the chapter’s ability to raise necessary funds.