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MDSE Installs Water Disinfection System in Sierra Leone

MDSE Installs Water Disinfection System in Sierra Leone

Community members alongside the MDSE team
Community members alongside the MDSE team

In June 2014, Maryland Sustainability Engineering (MDSE) sent members of the Sierra Leone Project team on an implementation trip to Sierra Leone. After successfully installing a solar array in 2012, the team visited and reassessed the needs of the Abigail D. Butscher Primary School and the surrounding community of Calaba Town in June 2013. The team diligently worked over the past year to design facilities that will meet those needs.

During the nineteen-day trip, the team fully implemented a rainwater catchment and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system using locally sourced materials. This system will provide a consistent source of clean drinking water to reduce water-borne illnesses and help the children of the Abigail D. Butscher Primary School stay hydrated. The team then taught select community members how to properly operate and manage the system for a sustainable future. At the same time, construction began on another project, a secondary school. The team excavated the new school’s site and poured the building’s concrete footings. Once completed, this subsidized secondary school will allow students to continue to receive education beyond primary school, as well as alleviate the overcrowding issue that the primary school currently faces. Many community members and even Madieu Williams, whose namesake foundation continues to partner with MDSE’s efforts, worked alongside the team throughout both construction processes.

Senior bioengineering student Henry Ko led the MDSE team, consisting of students Karenna Buco (Aerospace Engineering), Ricky Fairhurst (Bioengineering), Sam Laiacona (Bioengineering), Torrance Wang (Bioengineering), Maria Kaplan (Chemical Engineering), Franklin Ning (Chemical Engineering), Eric Schwartz (Civil Engineering), Alex Mann (Finance), Justin Albrecht (Mechanical Engineering), and Matt Meyers (Mechanical Engineering). In addition, the team was joined by project leader emeritus and recent University of Maryland graduate Kathryn Connolly (Chemical Engineering), Civil Engineering Professor and Engineers Without Borders Faculty Advisor Dr. David Lovell, and professional civil engineers John Sankey and Ed Miller.

The MDSE team was also joined by members of Public Health Without Borders (PHWB) and their faculty mentor Dr. Elisabeth Maring. To supplement the UV water disinfection system, the PHWB team ran educational workshops about the proper usage of clean water, hygiene, and basic health practices for the young students of the Abigail D. Butscher Primary School. Additionally, they conducted lifestyle interviews and provided recycled water bottles to local community members for home remedies.

The MDSE team plans on returning in January 2015 to complete its work on the Abigail D. Butscher Secondary School.

August 5, 2014


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