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Engineers Without Borders DC Chapter Completes First Stage of Water Supply Project for Mbokop, Cameroon

Engineers Without Borders DC Chapter Completes First Stage of Water Supply Project for Mbokop, Cameroon

April 30, 2015

Stephen Clark is a Project Manager in the Water Business Group from CH2M’s Hartford, Connecticut office. He has been with CH2M for two years working on water and wastewater infrastructure project for municipal clients around Connecticut. He has served as the Engineer of Record for the Water and Health Project in Mbokop, Cameroon for the past three years traveling to Cameroon twice. He has also served as the Professional Mentor for George Washington University on a Composting Latrine project in La Peῆa, El Salvador traveling with the students three times.

For the past four years I have been working with the Washington, D.C. Professional Chapter of Engineers without Borders (EWB-DC) to assist Mbokop, a small rural community in Northwest Cameroon, with improving the community’s infrastructure. During our initial trip to Mbokop in March 2013, the community expressed that their greatest need was for a clean reliable water supply, especially during the dry season. During the dry season, small streams used as water sources often run dry. We were able to identify a spring approximately 1.5 km from the center of Mangi, a settlement in

Spring source identified during first assessment trip.

Spring source identified during first assessment trip.

Mbokop, that has an especially dire water situation.

We spent about a year designing a system to collect water at the spring source and route it to Mangi. During this time, with the help of a number of generous donors including CH2M, we were able to raise enough funds to begin construction.

We broke the project up into four Phases.

  1. Construct a collection system and spring box at the spring to collect water from the spring source and convey it to the water system.
  2. Construct approximately half of the pipeline from the spring to the settlement and construct two break pressure tanks to relieve pressure.
  3. Complete the pipeline and construct a storage tank.
  4. Construct taps in the center of Mangi and at a government school.
Women from Mangi carrying sand to the site.

Women from Mangi carrying sand to the site.

In January 2015, a team of four EWB-DC members left on the three day long trip to reach Mangi. On the way we met up with two Peace Corps volunteers who wanted to help  and a local construction manager who has constructed similar systems in this region of Cameroon. Over the next two weeks, with help from the community including carrying sand over a mile on their heads, we were able to complete construction of the collection system and spring box and were pleasantly surprised when the initial flow readings coming from the spring were greater than expected even though it was during the height of the dry season.

The project is far from complete, but the first trip showed the community’s commitment to the project. Not only did they commit to labor, but they were also able to raise 5 percent of the construction cost and organized a committee that will be respons

Divine, local construction manager, placing concrete for the spring box.

Divine, local construction manager, placing concrete for the spring box.

ible for the maintenance of the system once the project is complete.

Our chapter is currently in the throes of fundraising efforts and has two more trips to Cameroon planned. The first trip will be in late fall to continue the pipeline and construct a storage tank, and the second trip will be in early spring 2016 to complete the pipeline and install taps at the government school and center of Mangi.  After this we will travel back to Cameroon to assess the operation of the project and its impact on the health of the community and discuss potential new projects with the community.

 

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