Building a better world, one community at a time

Student Chapter Projects


About EWB Student Chapters

Student chapters are self-managed under the guidance of professional and faculty advisors.  They operate under the same protocols and with the same as professional chapters.  EWB-USA was started as a student organization with the philosophy that students don't need degrees to make a difference in the world, and that they can grow from the experience of working internationally.  The student chapters in Oregon exemplify this ideal! 

For professionals, mentorship or a student chapter is an excellent way to work on a project and also transfer your skills and experience to students.  For information about being a professional mentor, please email projects(at)


Active Student Projects

Water Treatment and Supply for Coffee Farmers

Las Mercedes and El Naranjito, El Salvador
Oregon State University

The Oregon State University chapter of EWB has been working with the coffee-farming communities of Las Mercedes and El Naranjito since 2006 to provide better access to clean drinking water.   Project accomplishments have included:

  • Establishing a community-run water board,
  • Implementing Potters for Peace ceramic point-of-use filters,
  • Developing a community master plan for water supply,
  • Constructing rainwater collection system for a community school, and
  • Building gravity-fed pipelines, tanks and clothes-washing stations.

More than 30 students have had the experience of visiting this community, which is a grateful host and very dedicated to making this project successful.  Next phases will include household rainwater collection in selected parts of the community.  More information is online at:

Pictures courtesy of EWB-OSU.



Facility Planning for a Remote Hospital

Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua
Portland State University

A team of students and their professional mentor has partnered with a  hospital in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua (located in the Eastern Autonomous Region) and is working with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) and a local NGO VERBO to prioritize and fund projects at the hospital.  Chronic issues at the hospital that the project hopes to address include poor water quality, lack of sufficient water in the dry season, flooding during the rainy season, and solid waste management. 

In contrast to most EWB projects which emphasize a community partnership, this project is partly focused on working with MINSA to help and encourage this governmental agency meet the facility needs.  The first phase of the project will involve the development of a facility management plan to identify and prioritize project phases.  The students hope that they will be able to return to help implement selected phases, but also understand that lasting change will come  by MINSA accepting responsibility for the hospital and implementing upgrades in a well-considered fashion.

Further, the students hope to partner with VERBO to install a deep well that will consistently provide clean water.  More information will be available at: Portland State EWB Website.



Pictures courtesy of EWB-PSU.

Addressing School Flooding Issues

Jinotepe, Nicaragua
Portland State University

Portland State University has been working in the community of Jinotepe since 2006.  In response to previous success (story below) the Mayor of Jinotepe asked for the group help to address flooding issues that have plagued the community school since the land uphill of the school was converted to residential development.  Now, the school grounds often flood with up to a foot of water creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions. 

The PSU students plan to address this problem in a holisitic fashion by identifying both the improvements necessary to alleviate flooding at the school, while ensuring that improvements to not threaten parts of the town that lie downstream.  Project accomplishments have already included extensive survey and data acquisition, stormwater modeling efforts and planning for implementation efforts, which will surely rely heavily on community support.  Implementation is planned for 2009.  More information will be available at: Portland State EWB Website.

school children


Pictures courtesy of EWB-PSU.

Providing Sustainable Drinking Water Sources for a Coastal Nicaraguan Community

Huehuete, Nicaragua
Portland State University

The village of Huehuete is within the municipality of Jinotepe, where the student chapter of PSU has been working successfully for the last 3 years.  This village is located near the Pacific ocean and saltwater intrusion has afflicted many of the community's wells, rendering these sources unfit for human consumption.  Currently potable water must be trucked into this community, which can barely afford to pay the high costs. 

The PSU project team hopes to help solve this problem by constructing wells and storage tanks in areas not subject to saltwater intrusion, and building the infrastructure necessary to bring clean water to the town.  The project is planned as a phased implementation to be facilitated during trips to Jinotepe for other projects.  More information will be available at:  Portland State EWB Website.



Pictures courtesy of EWB-PSU.

Rainwater Harvesting in the Guatemalan Jungle

Agua Negra, Guatemala
University of Portland

Agua Negra is a Q’eqchi’ Maya village of approximately 800 inhabitants in Petén, Guatemala.  Before partnering with the UP chapter of EWB, people obtained drinking water from surface sources and shallow, hand-dug wells that became especially-contaminated in the rainy season and sometimes unusable in the dry season. 

On the first trip to the community in 2006, the student team and professional mentor met with the community and the Flores Rotary club.  Through collaboration with Rotary and through an inidvidual donation, a rainwater collection tank was installed at the community schoo in September 2007l to serve over half of the community. 

After a follow-up trip to evaluate the rainwater collection system and make improvements, and gage community support, the students plan to travel in 2009 to implement household rainwater collection systems in the remaining half of the community that is not yet served.


 woman and child


Pictures courtesy of EWB-UP.

A Drainage System for Community Health

Guadalupe Carney, Honduras
University of Portland

The community of Guadalupe Carney, first settled less than 10 years ago as a land reform movement of landless peasants, is in need of a drainage system to manage stormwater runoff.  The hope is that the system will reduce the incidence of malaria and Dengue fever in the community, and improve all modes of transportation within the community (walking, bikes, cars, and trucks). With proper maintenance a system could continue to benefit the
community for years to come.

The students plan to address the challenge by first becoming familiar with drainage in the community, and then making us of stormwater/surface planning and analysis tools to develop comprehensive designs.  The project will likely be implemented in phases making maximum use of community skills and labor.


kids at ditch

Pictures courtesy of community of Guadalupe Carney.

Completed Student Projects

Improving Facilities at an Elder Care Hogars

Jinotepe and Matagalpa, Nicaragua
Portland State University

Elder care facilities, or hogars, in Nicaragua are often underfunded and in poor repair. Through a partnership with the Jesse F. Richardson Foundation and the PSU Institute on Aging, the PSU chapter began working in Nicaragua to address these issues in 2005.  Project accomplishments have included:

  • Installation of a water supply system for a hogar in Matagalpa, including a drip irrigation system for an orchard providing a cash crop for the hogar residents,
  • Structural improvements to protect a hogar in Jinotepe against catastropic failure in the event of tropical storms and earthquakes,
  • Additional water storage capacity for a the Jinotepe hogar,
  • Improved electrical wiring system for the Jinotepe hogar.

The chapters work in Jinotepe has been assisted greatly through a collaboration with local university students and cooperation with the Jinotepe municipal government.  More can be read at:

water tank


More pictures online at: