Engineers Without Borders – International (EWB-I) is an international federation of national Engineers Without Borders/Ingenieurs Sans Frontiers (EWB/ISF) member associations, whose mission is to facilitate collaboration, exchange of information, and assistance among its member groups. EWB-I helps its Member Associations improve their capacity to assist underserved communities in developing countries. Projects coordinated by individual EWB/ISF member groups are grassroots and small and benefit underserved communities in developing countries. We chatted with Oliver Nachevski, President of Engineers Without Borders International about the importance of such an organization and the “empowering people. Award”.
You have been working as President with Engineers Without Borders International since 2014, Oliver. In which areas is the organization particularly active?
The main fields of action, in which EWB is particulary active include Alternative Energy, Water, Sanitation & Health, Agriculture & Food Security, Education & Empowerment and Shelter.
How do you estimate the social impact potential of appropriate technical solutions?
The social impact is one of the crucial desired outcomes in the application of appropriate technical solutions for specific problems. It is a generator of positive effects on the human population: by altering the ways in which people live, work, relate to one another, organize themselves to meet their needs and act as members of a society.
How important is it to empower people sustainably in developing regions and how do you do this?
Empowering people in developing regions ensures that people are enabled to rely on their own resources to successfully govern their lives and economies. It can be done by empowering individuals to become self-reliant so they can run sustainable initiatives – determined and implemented by themselves.
What do you think of using simple technologies as the basis of a business idea?
Practical solutions based on simple technologies are often the best basis of any business idea. It has been proved numerous times that the low-tech solutions produce the best results for the people in developing countries in their efforts to improve living conditions.
Why do you think the “empowering people. Award” is an important competition? Do you see potential links to EWB’s work?
The “empowering people. Award” gathers innovative ideas from individuals and enterprises, which are usually overlooked by the traditional economy. The competition stimulates the creativity of inventors in designing appropriate technologies for developing and emerging countries.
Individual EWB/ISF member groups worldwide apply effective engineering solutions, which are often very innovative and related to the specific local conditions. Thus, many of the bottom-up solutions could be replicated globally using the same innovative approach and technology.