by Melanie Takefman
They are designing the apparatus with the help of Concordia EWB members.
Both Sarhan and Vukadin Seidah will receive credit for the design as
part of their capstone project, a graduation requirement for all engineering
Mauta, located on Mfangano Island on Lake Victoria, is a village of
600 residents, who for generations survived on fish and local crops
like green peas and maize. However, in recent years, large European
fishing corporations have infused the lake with Nile perch, a foreign
species that now almost exclusively populates the waters near Mauta.
Despite the presence of modern industry, Mauta remains as basic
as you get, according to Sarhan. There is no electricity and the
corporate ships have damaged the subsistence lifestyle. Villagers carry
water in large jugs on their heads from the lake to the village and
boil it for purification as they cook.
For several years, engineers from around the world, under the auspices
of EWB, have been undertaking projects like the one in Mauta in the
spirit of humanitarian aid and sustainable development.
Founded last year at Concordia, the chapters executives and members
began working at the beginning of the fall semester, recruiting new
students and dividing into teams responsible for projects such as soil
and water testing, technologies and a training program for operation
of the purification system.
Though EWB members talked intently on the technicalities of the biosand
structure, their priority is on promoting long-term usability.
Members of EWB are actively seeking students from other faculties to
contribute to the social and educational aspects of their projects.
Eventually, they would like to see a high school and vocational centre
built in Mauta.
While they continue to design the water purification system and raise
funds to build it in Mauta, EWB members are already planning other endeavours,
like a biogas purification system in Cuba and a solar-powered computer.
We want to feel how people live and understand their daily needs, he added, and achieve a certain humility when we go there.