Engineers Without Borders – Los Angeles Professional Chapter collaborates with community partners to design and build sustainable engineering projects.


Engineers Without Borders- Los Angeles Professional Chapter (EWB-LA) is developing an improvement project in Tanzania for the village of Lulindi’s existing tap water system. In 2015, EWB-LA went to Lulindi to build a French drain in order to provide an increased flow of water during the dry season into an already built catchment basin. This catchment basin is the main source of water for the village, and water is distributed to several taps that are installed throughout the village. Other bacteriological water quality tests presented obstacles because the village is in a remote area with no lab access and the terrain is steep, making it difficult to carry a lot of equipment for water quality testing.


EWB using CBTEWB-LA selected the CBT II Kit that uses 100 mL Thio Bags for sample collection and is extremely compact and lightweight. Working with their partner, Orphans and Social Development Organization (OSDO), EWB-LA collected water from the catchment basin and other sources (springs) around the village. Because the ambient temperature was below 25° Celsius, they placed CBT samples in a bag that absorbed the heat but did not let it escape in order to maintain samples between 25-44.5° C.  CBT samples were incubated for 48 hours, the recommended length of time to obtain test results in cooler ambient temperatures.


Improving Water Supply in Ipalamwa

Improving Water Supply in Ipalamwa

In September 2011, EWB-LA members traveled to a remote village in Tanzania called Ipalamwa to construct a rainwater catchment system at a primary school in the village. This was EWB-LA’s second trip to the village; EWB-LA members first traveled to Ipalamwa in 2010 for a site assessment trip. During the assessment trip, we identified several potential projects in the village including energy infrastructure and road improvement projects, but the most pressing need in the village was water.

Ipalamwa, located in the southern highlands region in Tanzania, is situated in the midst of rolling hills. Although the views from the village were picturesque, the hills posed a problem when it came to water supply. A portion of the village, located at the bottom of a large hill, was served by a gravity tap system that was constructed by our partnering NGO, Orphans and Social Development Organization (OSDO), in 2007. Villagers at the top of the hill had no water system and they had to haul buckets of water up the hill from the bottom of steep ravines. Children attending the primary school also had to haul water up the hill daily, a time-consuming and dangerous chore, especially in the rainy season when the hills became slippery and muddy.

Four members of EWB-LA traveled to Ipalamwa to construct the rainwater catchment system—Jared Deck, Shah Selbe, James Mak and Kavita Mahulikar. They were joined by a former EWB-LA member and Tanzania native, Taha Jiwaji. With the help of the villagers, school children, and members of OSDO, they succeeded in constructing the rainwater catchment system in just ten days! The system consisted of gutters—to collect water from the roof of the school, an initial reservoir tank, a slow sand filter—to remove contaminants from the water, an overflow tank, and three storage tanks that stored up to 9,000 liters of water. We have since learned from our contact in OSDO that the system was successful in collecting water during the rainy season.

Although the rainwater catchment system is complete, our work in the village of Ipalamwa is far from over. We asked the Ipalamwa Village Council to help us identify our next project, and told us that they would like to improve the existing tap system that serves the lower portion of the village. On the 2010 site assessment trip, we noted that the tap system often did not work properly due to subpar design, and many taps went dry during hours of peak usage. EWB-LA is busy preparing for a second site assessment trip to the village to assess the tap system and monitor the rainwater catchment system to ensure that it is still functioning properly. Our next trip to Ipalamwa is scheduled for spring 2013. We are eager to return to the village and continue the work we started there back in 2010.

The Tanzania Project Team is always looking for more volunteers! If you are interested in getting involved, please contact the Tanzania Project Team Lead Kavita Mahulikar for more information at