Our Projects


The solar power travel team and helpers with the panel system ready to install on the roof (May 2012)


For over a decade, the Henry Doorly Zoo has conducted research examining the biodiversity of flora and fauna in Madagascar. The zoo is activity working to conserve remaining habitat for endangered primates.Recognizing the connection between quality of life and conservation efforts, the University of Nebraska EWB-USA student chapter has partnered with the zoo to provide infrastructure improvements to a community where the zoo is actively working on primate conservation. We believe it is crucial that the community is supported in their efforts to sustain biodiversity in the neighboring forest. By providing infrastructure improvements to the community, we will improve economic and health outcomes for the residents, allowing them to be better able to work towards conservation of the adjacent sensitive habitat while reducing poverty.

The Need

Madagascar is one of the poorest nations - the average income is less than $1 per day. It is also one of the richest countries environmentally - it contains 5% of the world's plants and animals and 80% of these are found nowhere else but Madagascar. The EWB Student Chapter at the University of Nebraska is working with Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo to help improve the lives of the people of Madagascar while helping them conserve their natural resources. The Zoo has been working in Madagascar for over 10 years and we expect to work with them there for at least another 10 years.  Our focus is on access to safe water for all the people of Kianjavato and providing electricity for the schools.

The EWB-USA University of Nebraska Student Chapter Response
Power for Schools

Providing electricity was cited by the people of Kianjavato as a priority during our assessment trip in May 2010.  Currently electricity is supplied by a few gas generators.  With gas at $6/gallon in Madagascar, power is essentially non-existent in Kianjavato.  Schools were viewed by the people of Kianjavato as needing electricity to power lights for classrooms.

The EWB-USA University of Nebraska Student Chapter (EWB-NU) has been working with the community since 2011 to address this issue by developing plans to install small solar power systems at schools to provide power for lights and computers.  In May 2012 EWB-USA NU installed a solar power system for lights in one classroom at the main primary school in Kianjavato.  This system will be used for evening classes for students studying for the examinations as well as for adult literacy classes.

EWB-NU will return in May 2013 to install another solar power system in two more classrooms at two other elementary schools in Kianjavato. Our plan is to continue with these installations until all of the schools in Kianjavato have at least one classroom with lights. The Kianjavato community has 14 primary schools and one middle school. As we work through these multiple installations, we’ll monitor previously installed systems and use the information to improve our designs and implementations.

Biosand Filters for safe water

The people of Kianjavato, Madagascar lack access to safe water.  A biosand filters is a point of use water treatment system that is sized for daily use by households that do not have safe or treated water sources available.  Biosand filters remove 95 to 99% of organic contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, worms, and particles.  They are low cost (about $15 per filter) and low maintenance and can typically treat about 20 to 60 liters of water per day.  In June 2011, EWB-NU students and faculty traveled to Madagascar to introduce biosand filters to the people of Kianjavato by hosting a workshop on biosand filters and installing biosand filters in five schools as a pilot project.  EWB-NU returned in May 2012 to host another workshop on biosand filters and installed more biosand filters at schools.  At the end of the 2012 workshop the community members attending decided to set up their own association to produce biosand filters for households in the community.

The EWB-USA University of Nebraska Student Chapter, with the help of their partners (Madagascar Biodiversity Project and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo), will continue to monitor the biosand filter project over the coming years.  Our plan is to continue working with the community association to work with them to see what they need from us in terms of technical expertise to be successful.  We plan on returning in 2013 to not only continue working with the community on biosand filters but to also learn from the community more about their gravity-fed water system that is failing.


Trip History

August 2015- Solar Implementation trip to install power at one more school

May 2015- Water system technical assessment

May/June 2014- Solar Implementation trip to install power at one more school & water system assessment

July 2013 - Solar Implementation trip to install power at two more schools

May 2013 - Water quality trip to monitor biosand filters and to assess gravity-fed system

May/June 2012 - Biosand Filter Implementation Trip

May 2012 - Solar Implementation Trip

May/June 2011 - Biosand Filter Pilot Implementation Trip

May 2011 - Solar Technical Assessment Trip

May 2010 - Initial Assessment Trip

The solar power travel team and community members installg solar panels at a school in Kianjavato, Madagascar (May 2012).

 Stacey Joy teaches about the importance of clean water in Kianjavato, Madagascar (June 2011).