Engineers Without Borders UK

Year:Founded 2001

Duration:17 years counting


Country: Worldwide

What did this project achieve?

Use engineering skill and innovation to help developing countries around the world

The first Engineers without Borders (EWB) group in the UK started at Cambridge University in 2001. It registered as a charity in 2003.

EWB UK had its first overseas placement in 2002 with the Organisation for Social and Environment Development (ORSED) in Pondicherry, India – which deals with disaster, water and waste management.

Since then EWB volunteers have worked with communities across Africa, Asia and South America on everything from clean water and sanitation to renewable energy and public building projects.

Along with EWB groups in other countries EWB UK continues to work towards a world where people everywhere can have access to the benefits of engineering.

Difference the charity has made

EWB UK has been working on sustainable development goals across the world since its foundation in 2001.

Countries where EWB UK has made a difference recently include the Philippines and India.

In the Philippines, volunteers worked with SIBAT – a local organisation that helps rural communities – to help design a system for monitoring micro-hydro systems.

In India, EWB UK volunteers worked with manufacturing and research company Prakti to develop a cleaner and more efficient cooking stove for people without access to electricity.

Indoor pollution from cooking is directly associated with the deaths of 3.5 million people a year globally. It's a bigger killer than malaria or tuberculosis.

The new stoves aim to cook faster, burn less fuel and – crucially – create less smoke.

How the projects are done

All EWB UK projects aim to get engineering skills to the people and communities around the world that need them.

The EWB UK programme in Kibera, Kenya is a typical example.

Kibera is a big, informal settlement in the south of Nairobi. Its population can fluctuate between 250,000 and 1 million people.

Kibera has open sewers and limited access to clean water. Seasonal rains in the region can be heavy. Sewers and drains can flood into homes leading to the spread of water-borne disease.

EWB UK has partnered with local organisations to help reduce flooding in Kibera, working to improve drainage systems and build flood protection. The project has made life better for some of the settlement's poorest inhabitants.


Engineers Without Borders… is challenging all engineers to take responsibility for their global impact.

Jon Prichard

chair, Engineers Without Borders UK

Fascinating facts

Around 1.4 billion people around the world have no access to electricity. An EWB UK project in Malaysian Borneo works with local partners to bring electricity to off-grid communities.

Another EWB UK project with off-grid communities saw volunteers working in Playa Blanca – a fishing village in northern Peru. EWB engineers helped install small household wind turbines to generate electricity.

EWB volunteers did more than 32,000 hours of work on international projects in 2015 alone.

People who made it happen

  • Chief Executive: Katie Cresswell-Maynard
  • Chair: Jon Prichard

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