Landau Associates News

Brandon Duncan to Assist Engineers Without Borders Project

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IMG 0836 adjEnvironmental engineer Brandon Duncan will travel to South Africa the end of October 2014 with Engineers Without Borders USA  to start work on a clean drinking water supply project in the village of Bergnek, a rural community of 3,500 people. EWB-USA is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to support community-driven development programs worldwide through partnerships that design and implement sustainable engineering projects, while creating transformative experiences that enrich global perspectives and create responsible leaders.

By Brandon Duncan, PE

The end of October 2014 I will be traveling to South Africa to work with the community of Bergnek and other EWB members to establish better access to clean water. To put it lightly, I am thrilled to be a part of this project. Working on this type of project is part of what drove me to become an environmental engineer. The ultimate goal of our project is to help provide better access to clean water which will empower the community to improve other aspects of  their living conditions and lives in general.

The community of Bergnek is approximately 37 kilometers outside of Polokwane in the province of Limpopo. The community’s primary needs are clean water, sanitation, healthcare, and employment opportunities. We will focus initially on clean water, and then may continue to work with the community to address the other items, as well. Historically, a well was installed in 1997 when the community was established, but it has not been productive enough to supply the community’s drinking water and hygienic needs, and requires long hikes for water by community members to retrieve the water.

This initial trip (October 25 – November 7) will be to establish a relationship with the community and collect the technical information required to move forward. Establishing the relationship with the community is critical; for the project to succeed, the community must be completely vested in the project. They also need to trust us and believe that what we are recommending to them is not politically motivated, which is uncommon with water-related issues in South Africa. To do this, we will be hosting a number of meetings to discuss the project with community members ranging from the community chief and elders, the leaders of the local district, teachers, and school children. We will also evaluate their existing sanitation scheme and water use, look at potential locations for a future well or water tank, evaluate the geotechnical suitability for any structures that may need to be built, and look at the availability of supplies within the region.

The community of Bergnek will contribute most of the non-skilled labor required. Project costs (water testing, drilling, other specialized labor, and materials) will be covered by donations to the Central Houston Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders project “South Africa: Bergnek.” I am paying for my travel costs, vaccinations, and medications out of my own pocket.

I am wildly excited about this and will keep you posted on our progress.

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Landau Associates and several of Brandon’s co-workers have donated to the project. The company’s annual matching funds program for employee giving has helped to maximize donations.