Engineers without boarders

EWB project

Engineering project in Mayukwayukwa

Mayukwayukwa is a refugee camp located in Kaoma in western province of Zambia. It is one of the oldest refugee camps and is predominantly rural settlement. The area is located in a remote place characterized by poor infrastructure. Our engineering design is aimed at improving the lives of the people in Mayukwayukwa. Our design will cover housing, water supply and sanitation, ICT and energy (UNHCR, 2015).

The housing in the refugee camp is mainly temporal and of low standards. They consist of shelters with two rooms that accommodate six or more family members. The shelters are constructed from wooden poles and mud, with the roofs made of grass which require to be replaced annually. The current problem is termite’s infestation in the shelters. This has been solved by applying used oil from automobiles. However, this method is not accessible to majority of the people in the community, thus there is a strong interest for an alternative solution (UNHCR, 2015).

Design 1: Improvement of shelter designs

This design will utilize locally available materials for constructing walls, roofs and additional rooms. The use of local materials and the expertise of local people will ensure that the project takes a short time to construct with a low cost. The diagram below shows the construction of walls and roofs for the shelters. The walls are filled with mud before covering with a cement layer to help it last longer.

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Figure 1: Stages of construction of the walls of the houses

The vertical timbers are held firmly in the ground, before putting the horizontal running poles made from bamboo or tree branches. They are held firmly together using nails. In the second stage of construction, the walls are filled with mud before covering them with cement as shown the picture. The roofs can be constructed using thatched materials like as shown in figure 2 below.

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Figure 2: Thatched roof

This technique is cheaper as grass can be harvested around the settlement area. An alternative design is to construct the walls using bricks and supporting them with timber to make them strong like as shown in figure 3 below.

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Figure 3: Bricks supported with timber

Design 2: Recreational facility

The project aims to design a playground and recreational facility for children using locally available materials in Zambia. The recreational program will be started with the help of the local people in construction of a low cost recreational playground. The playground should accommodate the disabled and non-disable children. Bamboo will be used as it is not only locally available, but is also environmentally friendly, and with traditional skills of local builders. The durability of bamboo can be enhanced by treating them using traditional curing or modern methods like the use of preservative. The playground allows the children to try different exercises equipment and play things. They are made from old tires, drums and poles. The design for recreational playground is shown in figure 4 below.

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Figure 4: Design for a playground

The swings are made from strong poles to make them strong, while the ropes are made from soft materials which can a cloth or leather.

Design 3: Termites

The wooden materials will be treated to increase resistance to termite attack. Preservatives such as Zinc borates can resist termites. The materials are treated and allowed to dry before using them in the construction. Charred wood is also effective in resisting termites attack, because termites dislike the layer of charcoal. Charred wood also increase resistance to rotting.

The hydro turbine that was used to supply electricity to Mayukwayukwa settlement failed in 2011. The current sources of energy are solar panels and diesel generators. However, according to a report in 2014, approximately 1% of the population in the area has access to electricity.

A diesel generator is used to electricity to the administration buildings, staff house, school and clinic within the settlement area and runs for about 5 to 6 hrs per day. The generator is used sparingly due to the high cost of diesel. The solar panels do not supply sufficient electricity to run the equipments (UNHCR, 2015).

Design 1: Alternative energy supply

Alternative energy encompasses all those things that do not consume fossil fuel.

  1. Wind turbine

Electrical power will be generated using small scale wind turbines. The turbines work when the wind blows on the blades forcing it to move round driving the turbines which generate electrical power. The turbines are connected to group of batteries used to supply power to run the equipment. The system is less costly and needs less maintenance. The design is limited by the variation in wind speed (Tong, 2010).

  1. Solar panels

The system is design to absorb the sun’s rays and generate electrical power. It consists of photovoltaic panels that generate a DC power output which charge the batteries. The limitation of this technique is that they do not work at night or when it is cloudy.

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Figure 5: Solar panel

The ultimate design is combination of the different electrical production systems enables us to take advantage of the prevailing weather conditions so as to maximize electrical energy production. The systems complement each other, such that when one is not working the other one takes over. The battery will charge faster when both the wind and sun are present. The DC output is converted to an AC through an inverter (Tong, 2010).

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Figure 6: A combination of solar panel and wind turbine

The system can also be connected to a generator to enable constant supply of power. The system will be connected as shown in the figure 7 below.

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Figure 7: A combination of three electrical power systems

The electrical power produced will be constant and can be used in clinics and in schools.

Mobile coverage in the area is provided by Airtel Company with towers that covers approximately 15 to 25 km radius, but does not cover the resettlement area. This hinders day-to-day communication, especially during emergencies. Given that the settlement area is large and that long distances has to be covered to travel from one place to another, there is a need for an effective form of communication within the settlement area (UNHCR, 2015).

Currently, NGOs and the government use a car driven around with a megaphone in order to communicate public messages. In high schools, the offices have computers but there are no computers to be used by students for their studies. The main factors that hinder development of ICT in school are lack of electricity and high cost of computers. Computers are required in school to meet the new curriculum education set out by the government in Zambia. The requirements include business and ICT courses which require the use of computer based components (UNHCR, 2015).

Design 1: Communicating radio

This project design focus on development of a communication radio station within the settlement area. The limitation of electricity within the area is also considered.

Design 2: Wireless internet hotspots

The project focuses on designing a wireless internet hotspot to provide internet coverage within the area. This will involve the use of a continuous battery charging system to for charging the mobile phones.

The proposed wireless network uses wireless frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz to transmit data from the mobile phone to the computer using a wireless signal. The network architecture is shown in figure 8 below.

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Figure 8: Creating a hotspot using a handset

As shown in the diagram above, the devices used in wireless network include a Wi-Fi enabled cell phone, computer and a laptop. The Wi-fi phone receives the data from network providers like Airtel (Vermaat, et al., 2015). The computers and laptops access the internet through a Wi-fi technology.

Design 3: Computer in schools

The project will focus on installation of computers in schools taking into consideration the limited amount of money and electricity within the settlement area. A generator can be used to supply electricity that can be used to run the computers in schools, but only for a limited amount of time. To increase efficiency, the generator used to supply different equipment at the same time. This ensures that there will be no wastage of electrical power. Electrical power from the solar panel and wind turbine can is used when the generator is off. The generator can be run for some few hours at night if the wind turbine does not produce sufficient electrical power to run the equipment. The combination of the different electrical supply is shown in figure 9 below.

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Figure 9: A combination of electrical power from the generator, solar panels and wind turbine

  1. Water supply and sanitation

Water supply is becoming a problem in Kaoma district, with about % of the people lacking water access to clean and safe water used for sanitation and consumption. The community currently depends on groundwater that is shared by the community. The members of the household mainly children and mothers carry water in containers from the boreholes where the hand pump enables them to draw water from the boreholes. Many boreholes have been constructed throughout the settlement area (UNHCR, 2015).

Water security has also become a significant issue in the region. There have been fluctuations in duration and timing of the wet season within the country. This has led to reduction in long term rainfall in Kaoma region from an average between 1000 to 1100m to 850 to 1000mm. This has negatively affected the production of various types of crops and raising concerns of food security in future (UNHCR, 2015). Although the farmers sue drought resistant crop varieties, they need alternative water sources to enable them counteract the drought problem.

Design 1: Harvesting of Rainwater

Currently there is no collection and storage of rainwater during monsoon rains to be used during dry. As a result, the local people have no alternative water supply if there is damage to groundwater supplies. The objective of this project is design harvesting system aimed at that will collect water during monsoon season and store them to be used during dry season in their farm and provide them with alternative source of water in schools, health clinics and in homes. Water tanks can be installed on a raised ground and a generator pump is used to pump water in it. Reservoirs can also be used stored water captured runoff water during the rainy season. Water tank and a reservoir are shown in figure 10 below.

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Figure 10: Water tank and a reservoir

Reservoirs will also be built across water channels or across the valley. The water can be used for irrigation purposes.

Design 2: Water purification

The water collected from boreholes are has iron, and as a result, the water has a distinct taste and has red colouration. High amount of iron in water may increase the buildup of microorganism in water and in some cases results in health problems. This project aims to design a low cost, simple water purification system in order to purify the drinking water for household use. The proposed system consists of sand whose grain sizes varies, and is arranged in layers as shown in the figure 11 below.

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Figure11: A system with layers of sand whose grain sizes varies

The topmost sand has fine grains, the second layer has courses grains and the third layer has gravels. The purification process passes through different steps which include coagulation, sedimentation filtration and disinfection. In the coagulation process, chemicals such as Alum are added to remove metals, dirt and other particles. Different layers of sand remove particles through filtration and disinfectors are added to kill bacteria and other microorganisms (Stein, 2008). The outer cover will be made of concrete and cement. The system is simple to construct and the materials are easily available.


Stein, M. (2008). When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency.

Tong, W. (2010). Wind power generation and wind turbine design. Southampton: WIT Press.

UNHCR, (2015) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Vermaat, M., Sebok, S. L., Freund, S. M., Campbell, J. T., & Frydenberg, M. (2015). Discovering computers: Technology in a world of computers, mobile devices, and the internet : enhanced.