The Africa Project

Jan 21, 2013

Kettering’s Engineers Without Borders B-Section is working to bring clean, safe drinking water to a village half a world away from campus.

A Kettering student with village childrenKettering’s Engineers Without Borders B-Section (EWB-B) Chapter is back in the South African village of Vukuzenzele to continue their work bringing clean, safe drinking water to the village, according to Dr. Laura Sullivan, adviser for the group and professor of Mechanical Engineering.  The group traveled to Vukuzenzele, located between the cities of Johannesburg and Durban, in one of the poorest provinces of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, during the last two weeks of January, 2013.

For this third trip the group will expand upon their 2009 assessment trip and 2011 implementation trip with the installation of 30 rain catchment and cistern systems in the homes of families selected by the village’s elected water board.

EWB-B partners with Organization for Cross-Cultural Exchange (OCCE), an organization that has focused its efforts on the health of the citizens of Vukuzenzele.  OCCE, led by Brenda Gonzales of Flint, Michigan, is committed to developing trust with this village and to improving their acceptance of western medicine in treatment of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as improving the safety of their drinking water.

The need for clean water is great. Two hundred households populate the village of Vukuzenzele and health concerns that arise from contaminated water must be addressed. Women and girls in the community spend much of their time walking to and from local streams and during the dry season as far as the Umzimkhulu River, which is three kilometers away, according to Sullivan.

Two Kettering students from the 2011 tripFour students and two advisers, Sullivan and Dr. Karen Palmer of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department will be in South Africa for two weeks to meet with the community and the elected water board, to partner with community members in the installation of gutter systems and cisterns, and to orient homeowners to their maintenance and use.  Gonzales arrived in advance and worked with the community to organize the water board and to hire two translators to accompany her and the Kettering team during the project.  The language spoken by villagers is a hybrid of that spoken by the Zulu and Xhosa tribes (see

Contact: Dawn Hibbard