Engineers for a Sustainable World

Engineers for a Sustainable World: Cameroon Empowerment Program

San Diego, United StatesNkambe, Cameroon
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The goal of the Cameroon Empowerment program is to bring water access to rural areas of Cameroon. We hope to launch solar-powered water pump systems throughout Cameroon to brings sources closer to populations and make time for economic opportunity and education. 

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could teach a community of agricultural students in Cameroon how to build a sustainable water pump system and they spread this knowledge across the country?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A village in Cameroon called Nkambe reached out to us and requested our help in building a solar-powered water pump in order to help them gain access to a ground water source at their village. Currently, their only water source is a polluted river miles away. Each day, women and children spend hours bringing water back and forth for cooking, drinking, and cleaning. There are also safety issues associated with long travels alone.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Cameroon Empowerment Program aims to teach the local agriculture students how to develop and maintain their own solar powered water pump as well as additional educational workshops that teach them how to use local resources to build water filters, chlorine bottle flashlights, clay pot refrigerators, etc. By teaching them these technical skills, we aim to have them spread this knowledge and assist us in installing more wells in the future across Cameroon. This program is in its launch phase as we hope that by charging the recipients tiny amounts of money each time they obtain water, we will be able to fund the next system.


University of California, San Diego Social Innovation Challenge - $1000
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We believe that once our project gets implemented, women will have more time for economic opportunities such as jobs, or make crafts to sell, children will have time to attend school. Above that, we're hoping that the educational workshops we teach the students will inspire the students to further their education and make good use of these items. The ultimate goal is to successfully build a system in Nkambe and fundraise through the water collection payment system to subsidize (or even completely fund) the next solar water pump system in another village.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Our project is still in our prototyping stage so we do not have any measurable impacts yet. However, we have been working hard to also spread awareness of our project at conferences, networking events, and summits. We are receiving funding from our university to host the educational workshops at school to teach other students how to build a biosand filter and other useful tools.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Within 5-10 years, we hope to have implemented at least 20 systems throughout rural Cameroon. Currently we are getting in contact with the Cameroon Royal Council and the technology hubs in the area to provide some financial support and government support in spreading this technology. Cameroon in the past couple years has been working to invest in sustainable technologies and we hope that our projects and systems will help launch this forward and serve as an example of having a successfully implemented high tech system.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project, after it is implemented, is funded by a penny payment system. Each time someone collects water from the well, a small, affordable payment is made to the local government managing the system and the funds will be used to fund replacement parts when it breaks and projects in other regions.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many projects available out there that build water pumps for various communities. The difference with our project is that we have the community involved in the building and the conversation. We are trying to teach them these skills so that they may be able to use it as a job. The project aims to eventually teach enough students so that they can start and implement their own projects without our assistance. This is our idea of Cameroon empowerment.

Founding Story

The project began when a local community leader named Farmer Tantoh reached out to us and asked us for help after hearing about our organization, Engineers for a Sustainable World, from a former member stationed in Cameroon with the Peace Corps. We formed a team of 5 and researched for the project. Through our funding ventures, we met a lot of other innovative projects that inspired us to broaden our spectrum and spread our project to other regions and became the Cameroon Empowerment Program.


The current composition of my team includes engineers of various disciplines (electrical, chemical, mechanical, and environmental engineering). Each team member is responsible for major components of the project such as a solar lead, pump lead, CAD (computer aided design) lead, education lead, biosand filter lead, and operations lead. Most of us have been a part of the team since the founding of the project a year and a half ago and have been extremely dedicated to pushing forward for research, funding, finding new opportunities to gain hands-on experience to prepare for the project, etc. Some of the team members are very education and equality minded and hope that this program will last a long time to help develop Cameroon's rural areas sustainably. Our previous team leader who is graduated still actively supports us by informing us of funding opportunities and has offered financial support for when we go to Cameroon. This year we added 3 new members with much more technical experience to help us in prototyping the project.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Recommendation from someone that works for the United Nations Association.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Project Leader

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.


Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We have multiple professors on campus serving as our technical advisors, administration at student business office mentoring us in our competitions and pitches, informing us

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