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The landscape of international development is rapidly changing and we are constantly adapting our work to ensure it is relevant to community and global needs. Going forward, our international program will pay specific attention to creating sector wide change with the corporate, government, education and community sectors.   

Internationally, the development sector is about to see a revised approach and direction with the Millennium Development Goals due to expire in . The UN is currently engaging stakeholders from across the globe, to develop the post- Sustainable Development Agenda, which is expected to result in new development goals next year. Whether explicitly included in these goals or not, technology and engineering will play a massive role in facilitating and enabling poverty reduction post-.

In June we saw a shift in Australia’s overseas aid program with the release of DFAT’s new international policy and performance framework. In its new approach DFAT invests in economic development, trade opportunities, human development and poverty reduction.

EWB’s Approach

To increase the depth of our impact EWB will expand its focus in Cambodia, Vietnam and Timor Leste – strategically working with exceptional community partners in places where we can make the biggest difference.

EWB is leveraging our experience to create change in four key thematic areas – WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), shelter, energy and education – with an emphasis on impact and innovation.

EWB’s work focuses on addressing niche gaps by using specialised engineering to assist communities in difficult circumstances to access basic needs.

Sanitation in Challenging Environments

An example of this is our new Sanitation in Challenging Environments Initiative. A challenging environment is considered to be a place where conventional sanitation designs have proven unsuccessful, due to difficult geographical and/or geological conditions. In Cambodia this mostly relates to communities that are flood-prone, floating or have high ground water, affecting between – per cent of the population (WSP analysis, ).

According to Katrina Bukauskas, EWB Field Volunteer working on this project, addressing these conditions “requires multi-dimensional interventions combining technical solutions, community behaviour change, government support, and collaborative efforts from NGOs and entrepreneurs to deliver appropriate solutions. Plus a lot of patience.” That is why EWB is leveraging its experience in WASH, technical knowledge and networks of community, industry and education partners to create a sector based approach to this issue.

Marc Purcell, the Executive Director of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak body for Australian aid and development NGOs, said “ EWB’s approach is important because it recognises that developing country Governments and local NGOs are increasing looking to share knowledge and work in partnership, rather than an old fashioned  charity model of transfer of resources. Increasingly Governments have funding, but lack the trained and skilled staff to implement public works. EWB volunteers’ knowhow, and preparedness to work at a pace sensitive to local capabilities, can make all the difference to the successful take up of new programs and implementation.”

Integrated Career Pathways

EWB will also be establishing initiatives that support the establishment of career pathways and professional development for community organisations with the overall objective being to build local sectorial capacity and expertise.

EWB has facilitated the development of an internship program for students completing the renewable energy course at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. As part of this students complete two weeks worth of work experience with a local enterprise.

EWB is also piloting a professional skills development program in Cambodia and Timor Leste to address skills gaps identified by our community partners. This involves bringing regional partners together for training workshops.

Across the globe humanitarian engineering is growing and there are an increasing number of EWB affiliates launching around the world. EWB Australia has been working to build the capacity of EWB Sri Lanka and EWB India.

Our objective is to ensure that local people and organisations have the tools they need to respond to challenges they face. Strong, skilled, local sectors lead to resilient communities where people can live a life of opportunity free from poverty. 

Written by Katie Shozi

Fast Facts:

Global Development

  • . billion people don’t have access to basic sanitation[]. That’s in .
  • million people don’t have access to safe water[]. That’s roughly in .
  • % of people lack access to electricity[]. That’s almost in .
  • The Millennium Development Goals are eight international goals established by the United Nations in , with the aim of achieving them by .
  • Next year there is expected to be a new set of sustainable development goals released.

Timor Leste

  • .% of the population live below the poverty line[]
  • Population – . million[]
  • Timor Leste spends a higher percent of GDP (.%) than any other country in the world[]. Education infrastructure was largely destroyed during the transition period, but the country is making large improvements.
  • Timor Leste gained independence from Indonesia in

EWB’s International Program

  • First international volunteer placement – – Kathmandu, Nepal, Wind Turbine Project.
  • Countries we have worked in– Cambodia, Vietnam, Timor Leste, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Laos
  • Number of international partner organisations since –
  • Total number of international field volunteers – over
  • New initiatives – Sanitation in Challenging Environments and Professional Skills and Career Pathways
  • Current thematic focus: WASH (water, sanitation & hygiene), shelter, energy and education.
  • (Design note – insert icons)

[] WHO/UNICEF JMP Report Update


[] International Energy Agency

[] Asian Development Bank, , Basic Statistics Publication,

[] Asian Development Bank, , Basic Statistics Publication,

[] CIA World Factbook,

Photos:Top left – Tonle Sap Lake Cambodia, Elspeth Moroni  Right – Student Lazio carrying out a compression test for clay bricks, Community Housing Timor Leste Bottom – Rob Leeson, Timor Leste