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Tapping into sustainability

Case studies of engineers involved in 'grass roots' projects were highlighted at the launch of the Telford Challenge.

Providing a sustainable water supply to a village in the central region of Ghana was the challenge of a team from Newcastle University, described by Professor John Knapton from the university.

'The village of Ekumfi Atakwa had no running water or electricity and malaria kills one in six children. The team worked with the villagers to dig out boreholes for a permanent water supply which will be ready in August. They will build a resource centre stocked with books and medical information. To help the villagers learn English, everyone has been given a clockwork radio so that

they can tune into the world service,' said Knapton.

Students from Strathclyde University went to a village in Malawi, dug out boreholes and fitted them with hand pumps. A village water committee was trained and equipped to sustain the pump. A Malawian student who worked on the project, praised the focus on village involvement. 'Young engineers like myself, with this kind of support will be able to reduce poverty in our countries.' said

David Mhango, from Strathclyde University.

The Cambridge University Zimbabwe Expedition developed a revolutionary rope and washer pump and introduced it to two areas of Zimbabwe. A two year scheme to construct 50 water pumps, launched in 1996, is in the hands of Zimbabwean team members. Cambridge undergraduates will return this summer to test the design after two years.

Simple engineering has helped increase production tenfold in the Indian village of Kunsai in the

Himalayas.

The water from monsoon rains was not being retained. Simple irrigation schemes to build small dams and wells were all that was needed to channel the water for crops and increase production ten fold. The Telford Challenge would support university departments throughout India in 'adopt a village' campaigns for similar development.

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