University of Nebraska-LincolnOnline: Summer 2010
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 Engineering@Nebraska > Feature, Madagascar


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In a dirt floor building under a thatched roof in a village of the East African nation of Madagascar, a computer sits unused in its wrapping. It was a gift for the schools in the remote village of Kianjavato, but the town does not have electrical power—a condition that NU’s Engineers Without Borders chapter is working to change.

Five members of EWB-NU traveled to Kianjavato in May and got to know the challenges its people face. Representatives of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo operate a research station nearby, and when they introduced EWB-NU guests to the village leaders, a sense of potential and purpose took hold.

Travelers Libby Jones, EWB-NU faculty adviser and UNL professor of civil engineering, and Sam Saunders, a CIVE Ph.D. student, said they believe that installing sustainable power generation in the village through solar panels and/or micro-hydroelectric projects can make a positive difference.

The goal of the EWB-NU effort is to help the community to improve the lives of its people, so that the village can take better care of its surrounding habitats: rich with bio-diversity, including rare species of lemurs and other animals and plants, but threatened by harmful hunting and deforestation.

EWB-NU’s first visit established relationships with the community and scouted sites for future work to help Kianjavato shape its future by valuing its resources. Members of EWB-NU are now planning and fundraising for return visits to conduct the work outlined. Learn more at

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