|A pump to end poverty|
by Angela Hill
Campus club promotes sustainable development abroad
Garrett Schmidt was working up a sweat in the Riddell Centre on Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Day, demonstrating how to use a trea- dle pump. "It allows people to work it as a stair master and is used to move water from one place to another," said Schmidt, co-president of the University of Regina EWB chapter. The replica pump, on loan from the University of Saskatchewan chap- ter, was set up March 1 to demonstrate some of the work EWB does overseas. The national non-governmental organization (NGO) stresses that it is not an aid group, but instead focus on positive developments in communi- ties. "That's one of the things EWB really stresses - simple, appropriate technologies that can be developed in the communities," Schmidt said. A treadle pump is one of these simple technologies - suction pumps using human muscle power to draw water up from as deep as 10 metres, or as far away as 30 metres. These devices were designed in Bangladesh, but now are found all over the developing world, especially for use in agriculture. In Niger, these pumps are one of the tools used by farmers to revive millions of trees, thus improving rainfall to the region. In the Riddell Centre, EWB was moving water between buckets and giving any student brave enough, the opportunity to try. However, the Regina chapter is also involved with overseas projects. In May they will send their first inter- national volunteer to Malawi. Environmental systems engineer- ing student and EWB member Ross Phillips received a junior fellowship and will be working in a rural commu- nity to maintain latrines and/or portable water treatment systems. He sees the trip not only as an amazing learning experience in a field he wants to get into, but also as an opportunity for the campus chapter. "[My trip] is a good thing for the EWB chapter, because I can talk about my experiences and create exposure," Phillips said. Each campus club across Canada can send one to three members as jun- ior fellows, each trip costing the chap- ter $6,500. After a week of training in Toronto, Phillips will travel with 42 other students from across Canada to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi for the in-country orientation before heading to his community alone. He will spend four months there. "I am very, very excited about the opportunity ... to learn, to do some- thing valuable for other people. Of course I am nervous," he said. "But it's not a fear that holds anything back." Phillips hopes this may teach him more about his own suitability for longer term placements in developing countries. The junior fellowship position is one the Regina EWB hopes to continue offering its members. The campus chapter is always looking for new members to join their core of 15, or their mailing list. Schmidt emphasizes that members don't have to be engi- neering and at least half of the mem- bers are from different faculties all over campus. EWB's main goal is to continue to raise awareness about extreme pover- ty and what Canadians can do to help end it.