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Engineering a solution to world poverty

ENGINEERING INSTITUTIONS are joining together to tackle world poverty.

ICE last week delivered a feasibility study to the Department for International Development showing how engineering skills can be used. It forms part of the run-up to the May launch of DFID's 'Telford Challenge' charging professional engineering institutions with finding solutions to poverty.

ICE deputy secretary John Whitwell said the engineering profession has the opportunity to 'take the moral high ground and lead by example'. The challenge of world poverty is massive. Whitwell said that every night there are 600M people without a roof above their heads.

Rapid growth in urban living has created enormous housing and sanitation problems with the inexorable spread of shanty towns and slum dwellings. Every week in Asia more than a million people move from the countryside into towns and cities.

ICE's response to DFID said: 'It presents a mind-numbing issue that is getting worse by the minute'.

The study stressed that any solutions must be sustainable so that communities can maintain any improvements. The engineering profession should:

act as a focus for engineering input;

identify policies and priorities for engineering measures contributing to poverty elimination;

encourage international industrial sponsorship;

encourage members of engineering institutions to participate and if possible donate;

co-ordinate the work of all participants and co-operate with organisations.

A steering group will be set up to initiate the challenge, with a permanent secretariat operating from Great George Street. The priorities for projects are likely to be in India and Africa. Proposals will range from sanitation to education and communications.

The two year pilot will be launched this autumn, followed by a main phase lasting three years.

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