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Students get global perspectives for sustainable infrastructure

Image supplied by Griffith University

Human survival depends on safe, secure and sustainable access to important resources such as food, fresh water and energy.

However, with less than 3 per cent of the earth’s total water volume being fresh water, this essential resource is relatively scarce. Many people in the developed world take for granted their access to fresh water with an unlimited supply available at any time within their own house.

This is not the case for many people living in other parts of the world, where up to 2 million people die every year from preventable water borne diseases. During early January 2017, 17 students from Griffith Sciences Group travelled to Siem Reap in Cambodia to implement a community aid project to supply safe drinking water to villagers.

The study tour and community aid project was led by Dr Graham Jenkins, a senior lecturer in the Griffith School of Engineering.

Students studying degrees in Engineering, Industrial Design, Environmental Science and Environmental Planning took part in this project, which supported the work of the NGO “Water for Cambodia” and included building and installing bio-sand water filters in local village houses.

“I learnt quite a lot about Cambodia and thoroughly enjoyed the trip,” said Lachlan Klein, who was one of the students who took part.

Kyle James reinforced this feeling saying, “I am happy to say that I was a part of such an amazing movement, helping out people who needed drinkable water that didn’t cause adverse health effects.”

However, it was Alexandra Woschitzka who probably summed up the feelings of everyone.

“My only regret is not spending more time installing more filters,” she said.

Water for Cambodia is a not for profit organisation based in Siem Reap.

They have built and installed more than 17,000 bio-sand water filters, that produce clean drinking water for more than 104,000 people.

Bio-sand water filters can remove up to 99 per cent of bacteria, nearly 100 per cent of protozoa and are extremely easy to use, containing only sand and gravel and will clean contaminated water straight form the source. Financial support in the form of travel scholarships was provided by Edge Consulting Engineers.

Tim Peters, Group Managing Director, said: “At Edge we are distinctly aware that the world increasingly needs more and more global citizens that are truly in tandem with the needs of the planet and the communities that exist. We are proud to be given the opportunity by Griffith University to provide sponsorship for the programme and hope that it has been as rewarding and influential for the students that took part as I’m sure it has for the numerous community recipients of the clean water systems.”

The community aid project and study tour has given these Griffith Sciences students a unique opportunity to see how simple water management devices can be installed within village houses. It also gave the students a firsthand opportunity to see the impact clean water can have on the lives of people in the developing world.

“To see the interaction between the students and the villagers was one of the most memorable parts of the trip for me,” Dr Jenkins said.

Another community aid project and study tour will run during trimester 3 over Summer 2017 and forms part of 3005ENG – Global Perspectives for Sustainable Infrastructure, which is a free choice elective available to students in Griffith Sciences Group.

Source: Griffith University

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