"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

Friday, February 18, 2011

How You Can Help

Task 1: Fundraising Efforts

The success of this project depends on the success of our fundraising efforts. Afren, a pure play African independent oil and gas company, has generously agreed to donate $28,000 to  PUC Ghana Sachet Team. This contribution amount is substantial but is based on a preliminary budget the group developed. We have since then found needs that were left out of the budget. The team is currently developing a detailed budget to ensure all funds necessary for the project are accounted for. In order to raise the funds needed in addition to the $28,o00 already received, Kelsey Koszela, will be leading the fundraising efforts to generate activities the team can participate in. These efforts include:

  • Grant proposals to foundations and corporations
  • Letters to friends and family requesting donations
  • Music benefit at SXSW
  • BBQ at the park
Task 2: Sachet Building

The structure to house the sachet machine will be built in April and May by the community, prior to the team's arrival for the implementation trip. The Ghana Sachet Water Team will determine specifications as to the dimensions and design parameters after researching the sachet packaging equipment. Nana Yaw Kwakye will oversee the construction of the building. During the reconnaissance trip, the student travelers will meet with Nana Yaw Kwakye to go over the specifications of the building and organize a building crew and schedule for construction. The building crew will comprise of community members established by Pastor Kofi. Also during the reconnaissance trip, the student travelers will identify an electrical consultant, potentially from KNUST, the local university, to oversee the electricity needs of the building. The community will also be responsible for digging the trenches to run plumbing from the existing well to the building. During the implementation trip, the student travelers will run the plumbing to complete the building and prepare for installation of the sachet packaging equipment.

Task 3: Sachet Packaging Equipment

In order to ensure the team purchases and installs appropriate and cost-efficient equipment, much research will go into sachet packaging machines. Greg Iles will lead the efforts of this research by spending time conducting research on the Internet, contacting manufacturers, and meeting with UT professors and faculty who are knowledgable of water packaging equipment. Also, during the recon trip, the student travelers will visit sachet packaging sites, including Nana Yaw Kwakye's to research machines that are currently being used.

Once the team has made a decision on which sachet packaging equipment, we will purchase the machine, arrange for its delivery in Patriensa, and request an operations and maintenance manual. We will review the manual before our implementation trip to ensure a successful implementation. Once installed, the system will need to be tested and monitored before handed off to the community and the local Advisory Council. The Ghana Sachet Water Team will ensure that the water quality meets the standards outlined by the World Health Organization before operating at full capacity.

Task 4: Business Plan Implementation and Testing

Francis, an emerging leader in Patriensa and law student, will assist the PUC team in creating a business model for the sachet packaging enterprise. Tim Bailey is currently enrolled in a course that should assist him in leading the efforts of completing this business model. The business model will be structured around having the oversight of Advisory Council. The council will be made up of leaders in the community and employees of the business. Pastor Kofi will assist in the identification of these members. During the implementation trip, the student travelers will meet with Francis to discuss the details of the business model and meet with the potential members of the Advisory Council and employees of the business. As of now, the business will be modeled as follows.

The Advisory Council will:
  • Ensure maintenance of the well and the sachet machine
  • Make decisions about use of the profits from the enterprise
  • Guide decisions for future expansion of sachet production
The administration of the enterprise will be made up of an operations manager, well water attendant, and delivery and distribution staff.

The Operations Manager will:
  • Manage daily operation of the water enterprise
  • Order supplies for sachet production
  • Be responsible for the accounting of funds for the enterprise
  • Manage the staff
  • Keep the business licensure current for enterprise
  • Package and allot the number of sachets per day and maintain the sachet machine in the beginning until a packaging staff can be employed
The Water Attendant will:
  • Notify the manager if the well needs maintenance or repair
  • Collect funds from community members for water distributed directly from the well
And the Delivery and Distribution Staff will:
  • Drive water out to nearby villages to sell in bulk
  • Deliver water to any local business where a contract is set up to carry water
The sachets will be packaged and dispensed in one of two ways:
  1. They will be sold to women in the village who will sell them to the community for individual drinking purposes
  2. The Delivery and Distribution Staff will take them to surrounding villages
The business will be monitored for the remainder of the time in Patriensa and alteration to the plan will be made if necessary to further the productivity and efficiency of the Sachet Water Enterprise.

Task 6: Sanitation and Recycling Education

It is estimated that in Ghana, waste produced from plastic packaging amounts to 270 tons per day, adding up to 22,000 tons in one year. It is common in Patriensa, for community members to simply throw the used sachet packages on the ground with no regard for the impact this has on the environment. In order to counteract this social and environmental issue, the PUC team will attempt to educate the community on the importance of recycling. The PUC team also intends to provide educational materials regarding sanitation and the importance of washing ones hands and drinking clean water. Over the next few months, educational materials will be developed for the student travelers to bring on the implementation trip including:
  • Pamphlets with facts regarding sanitation and recycling
  • Skits to perform in front of younger students
  • Puzzles and worksheets for older students
  • Microscopes to bring to the school to show students and community members bacteria that can not be seen with the naked eye
Red Cross, Engineers Without Borders, and Peace Corps will be used as references for these educational materials.

The village of Patriensa, Ghana is located in the south central region of the country.  There are about 4,000 residents in the village and it is mostly a farming community. In Ghana, sachet water is the main source for drinking water. Sachets are one-time use, disposable bags that can be manufactured hygienically and filled with well water. Sachet water is used by 85% of the village, but currently, the people of Patriensa must travel to a neighboring village in order to purchase these sachet waters. This is both a time and money cost. 

Through discussions with the community leaders about the true needs and desires of the people, the sachet water project was conceived. This project will establish a sachet manufacturing facility in Patriensa, creating a sustainable income generating business. Because it is individually packaged in sanitary bags, sachets help prevent water contamination that otherwise could occur by drinking the water from unclean containers. It is estimated that in Ghana, waste produced from plastic packaging amounts to 270 tons per day, adding up to 22,000 tons in one year. It is common in Patriensa, for community members to simply throw the used sachet packages on the ground with no regard for the impact this has on the environment. In order to counteract this social and environmenatl issue, our team will attempt to educate the community on the importance of recycling, but the people of the village need another method to dispose of these bags to prevent contamination of their community. Our project will help to meet this need by partnering with Trashy Bags, an established company out of Accra that repurposes used sachets in order to create fashion merchandise. We will help to set up teams of 10 women to create these bags and add another profitable aspect to the enterprise through training provided by Trashy Bags. By creating a business enterprise and recycling and repurposing initiative, our project is responsive to the needs of the community in a holistic manner. 

This project will provide the village with a local source of clean drinking water, a sustainable income generating business, and education and employment for the village, while promoting the health and well-being of the people and protecting their natural environment. 

Our Partners in Change:
Pastor Kofi
Pastor of local Presbyterian Church that manages church where the well we will use is located

Nana Yaw Kawache
Owner of startup sachet water production company and active in helping Ghanaian communities with wells

Dr. Osei Darkwa
Native resident of Patriensa who supports PUC's involvement in the community

An emerging leader in Patriensa. Has a business and economics degree and is now studying law

Honorable Mr. Kwame Antwi
Native of Patriensa and member of Parliament who is involved in development of the community

Chief and Queen Mother
Team is expected to meet with them to announce our mission and report back at the end of the trip

Dr. Dori Gilbert
Honorary Queen Mother in Patriensa and highly respected in the community, she has been going to Patriensa for 12 years and is familiar with the operations and customs of the village.   A UT professor in the School of Social Work she is the main local contact in the project

Dr. Tommy Darwin
A UT School of Social Work professor who is teaching a course in community development through business enterprise and will be using this project as a class assignment to help solidify the details

Dr. John Burgin
A professional engineer and professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering he teaches project management in the civil and architectural department with a focus on environmental and water resource engineering. He is teaching the spring PUC class and helping to guide us through the details of our project before implementation

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Team

Tim Bailey, Project Director, is a first-year graduate student at the UT School of Social Work.  He entered the program with seven years’ experiencein medical administration and an undergraduate degree in business administration from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS.  He is actively engaged in many civic and humanitarian organizations around the Austin area, mostly in AIDS services, most notably as Vice-Chair of the Austin Area HIV Planning Council.  He has served as coordinator and clinic manager on projects in Mexico and India and also has been part of community development in The Dominican Republic. Tim is organizing the business portion of the project.
Mary Clayton, Project Manager, is a senior in Mechanical Engineering, graduating in May 2011. As an undergraduate research assistant of the Webber Energy Group, she has conducted research on the nexus of energy and water. Mary plans to attend graduate school to continue to explore her interest in sustainable energy. Outside of the classroom and lab, Mary participates in service projects including volunteering at a food bank and engineering projects for underserved communities. 
Kelsey Koszela, Communications Manager, is a sophomore Civil Engineering major, working on a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Non-profits with a specification in International Development to pair with her degree. She is heavily involved with Young Life, a ministry organization that reaches out to high school students, and volunteers with Feed My People and other community service organizations. She is heading the fundraising and recycling education portion of the project.
Gregory Iles, Production and Structures Manager, is a junior in the Civil Engineering department at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. After finishing his undergraduate degree at UT, Gregory plans on attending graduate school to earn a Master's in Environmental Engineering with a focus on Water Resource Management or Renewable Energy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bridging the Gaps:
Projects for Underserved Communities (PUC) is a program at the University of Texas – Austin involving the Cockrell School of Engineering and the School of Social Work.  It is designed to give engineering students the opportunity to use their academic learning and apply it to real world problems while helping others.  PUC believes in empowering engineering and social worker students to think outside the box and collaborate multiple disciplines in order to come up with a united solution for an issue in an international country. The class encourages creativity, innovation, and sustainability in order to meet the technical and social aspects of a problem. During its pilot year, PUC earned a 2010 International Award for Innovative Practices in Higher Education from the University Design Consortium at Arizona State University.  
Phase I: Project Assessment
The first semester students enroll in a class designed to teach effective project assessment.  The stage-gate process is used to choose the best project based on feasibility, risk, impact, and sustainability. The project proposals must be approved by a Service Learning Advisory Board (SLAB).  This board will be composed of engineering professors from UT and local professional engineers, ensuring the most successful project is chosen.  
Phase II: Concept Selection and Design
Once the project is chosen, the second semester class involves concept selection, design, and fundraising.  Reconnaissance trips are also organized to solidify details with the communities.
Phase III: Project Implementation
During the summer, team members travel to their international destinations to implement the engineering projects with the help of community members and professional volunteers.

Learn more about PUC at www.utexas.edu/international/puc