Communities can submit project proposals directly – or with the assistance of a non-governmental organization (NGO) – to EWB-USA. Applications are reviewed by EWB-USA and posted on their website for review and adoption by the chapters. Note: It is now a requirement that all new project proposal come directly from the community.
Research and Adoption
The first step for our chapter in adopting a project is an evaluation by our Projects Committee. This decision is highly dependent on what other projects the chapter is already supporting.
For practical reasons, a project will usually require at least one individual to take an initial leadership of a project. This initial leadership position does not guarantee that a project will be adopted, but rather that there is at least one person leading to make the project concept a reality.
Our Projects Committee uses a decision matrix to evaluate potential projects. This tool evaluates projects against a long list of criteria the chapter has agreed are important to achieving a successful project such as feasibility of the project, long-term benefits to the community, in country resources, community involvement, and projected cost among other variables. Once the Projects Committee has evaluated and approved a project, the project is then voted on by chapter membership.
Once a project is adopted via vote, a project team will do as much background work as possible to define the scope of the project and identify the community and country contacts. This phase of the project will involve communication with the community and research on possible solutions.
Next, a team will travel to the community for an Assessment Trip. This trip focuses heavily on communication and data collection, with the project team establishing a partnership with community members. A community health assessment is performed to identify the health needs of the community. Depending on the type of project information is collected within the community to facilitate designing a sustainable solution. This information may include water quality analysis, location and flow rate of existing water sources, availability of building materials nearby, and the condition of existing infrastructure systems in the community.
Design and Collaboration
After the Assessment Trip, the team will continue to gather information to support the design work. If necessary, additional assessment trips will be made.
Constant communication between the project team in Chicago and the community is ongoing throughout the project process. There is also continual quality control and senior review provided by EWB-USA. Once the design is finalized, the project team will work with the community to order materials and implement labor.
Finally, the project team will travel back the community to work alongside the community members to complete the project. This is the start of our relationship with each community, as we form long-term partnerships that bring us back to communities many times for many different projects.
Several months after a project has been implemented a travel team will return to the community to evaluate the condition of the implemented project. They will check to make sure maintenance guidelines are being followed, identify any issues the community has experienced with the project, and perform a follow up community health assessment to measure the impact of the project. This trip may also act as an assessment trip for a new project in the community.