Kenya/Panama Project

2007 To Present

The Kenya/Panama Team since its inception over a decade ago has emphasized the provision of clean and reliable water sources. They have formed long standing relationships with communities we’ve worked in and have provided other health and education improvements (e.g. a medical waste incinerator and solar power for schools). The team has recently focused efforts to implement water and solar based projects in the Bocas Del Toro region of northeastern Panama. The communities in this region currently lack water treatment, face seasonal water shortages during the dry season, and power. In the Bocas Del Toro region, in addition to providing clean water resources to the community, we will explore opportunities to provide solar lighting. The lighting will be used for homes and community buildings to support student learning (sunset is at ~6 PM year-round), reduce greenhouse gas emissions from home fires (needed to light homes), and to improve respiratory health by reducing the inhalation of smoke in confined spaces.

The team was first introduced to the issues facing the region by Floating Doctors, a non-profit mobile medical team that provides routine treatment to remote communities in the area, who we will partner with on regional projects. Given the community needs, Floating Doctors reputation for community health service, regional knowledge, and eagerness of the community and Floating Doctors to collaborate, we hope to continue working in this region for years to come.   

Completed Projects

  • Community assessment (2008)
  • Electrification of three clinic buildings (2009 & 2010)
  • Rainwater catchment system at clinic (2009)
  • Medical waste incinerator (2010)
  • Electric pump, storage tank, and fluoride filter at Opanga well (2010)
  • Route survey for Nyatemba community water distribution pipelines (2011)
  • Well for Nyatemba water distribution system drilled (2011)
  • Phase I implmentation of Nyatemba water distribution project (2012)
  • Nyatemba, Opanga and clinic project monitoring and evaluation (2014)
  • Phase II Nyatemba waster distribution system (2015)
  • Repair of well sites, retrofit and repair of medical waste incinerator, and evaluation of future project alternatives (2016)

Current Effort

  • Evaluate alternatives and plan installation of our largest rain water catchment yet
  • And of course, fundraising and grant writing to facilitate these goals
  • Implementation of clean water and green energy systems in Northeastern Panama

Project Manager – Brian J Clark

Faculty Advisor – Roy Smith

Professional Advisor – Don Freeborn

Professional Advisor – Adam Kanold


In Luanda, Kenya, EWB-UCSB is implementing infrastructure projects to provide access to clean water and improve health care facilities. The team has been in existence since 2007 and has completed several ambitious projects in the past several years. Collaborators for this project include Santa Barbara-based Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care and the African Children’s Project as well as VIAGENCO, a grassroots organization in Luanda that started the health clinic.

Now, the Kenya Team is also focusing efforts in Panama with goals of establishing potable water and solar energy to help power homes.

Viagenco (representing the words Lake Victoria Agricultural & Environmental Conservation) was started in 1997 by three men from the Gembe region of Kenya with a vision of improving their community. Gembe is a very poor, rural area of subsistence farmers and the idea was to improve farming practices while conserving the environment. The founders soon discovered, however, that the community was so devastated by health issues such as HIV/AIDS and malaria that there could not be a focus on the environment until these health issues were addressed.

While interacting with the clinic it became apparent that long term goals of improving community health could not be realized until all members of the community had access to a safe, affordable water supply. The team investigated various options for developing clean water sources including filtering lake water and improving groundwater sources. The decision was made that treating groundwater was the easiest way to supply safe water. An existing well was upgraded by installing an electric pump and storage tank with a fluoride filter, allowing residents to access drinking water free from harmful biological and mineral contamination.

Thus, a small health clinic was established in conjunction with nearby government agencies to attempt to meet the needs of the community. EWB-UCSB’s first interactions were with this clinic and focused on improving the infrastructure to enable expansion of the clinic. The clinic buildings were electrified to connect to the grid, enabling vaccine refrigeration and the operation of electronic lab equipment. The team also installed a rainwater catchment system on the clinic roof to provide clean water for the clinic operations and built a medical waste incinerator to safety dispose of contaminated waste.

In July 2011 EWB-UCSB drilled a new, 100 meter deep well in the Nyatemba area. We began design of a distribution system to enable to construction of several access points, significantly reducing the distance water must be carried. This has increase clean water usage in the area. In August of 2012 the first phase of the construction of the water distribution system was carried out. From 2013 to 2015 we worked with the community to understand how to best maximize usage of the well system, and worked to establish economic models to enable the community leaders to maintain and repair the well system. The EWB Kenya team focuses on educational seminars that teach water chlorination, pump and generator operation, and proper record keeping during our trips. Sustainability is always the central focus of our implementations.

In 2016 we sent a team of 7 students and our professional mentors to Kenya to facilitate repairs of the well systems. We retrofitted the medical clinics medical waste incinerator to increase longevity and safety. In addition to this, our team investigated several future projects in the area. We will be fundraising in 2017 to add another rainwater catchment system to the new town hall, and a potential further expansion of the Nyatemba well system.