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2011 March

News and Updates from our Chapter

31 Mar


Strategy Development in Small Meal-Sized Chunks

March 31, 2011 | By |

What am I doing here? Thoughts from an agricultural development gal in Ghana

Here’s another good update from Erin’s blog, reposted here with her kind permission:

Hello world,

I’m writing this post to introduce a new concept we want to try over here at EWB. I’ve been hanging out in the “international development/aid online community” for a while now and while it’s fun to chat, I’d actually like to put this community to work! (And yes, family, friends and colleagues, I want you to help me out too!) One of the favourite conversation topics is poorly designed development projects. While it’s fun to bash these projects, it’s harder to design good ones. I’d like to use this opportunity to seek out feedback on our team’s next move in public sector agricultural development.

This is an experiment! The plan is to outline our team’s strategy development process and the various investment opportunities we have, then seek external feedback on where we can invest and how we can play a bigger role in the agric sector. I have no idea if this experiment will work out, but I think it will be interesting to try! In order to work, it relies on a few success factors:

  • lots of readers – so please share widely so we can ask for widespread feedback!
  • feedback from within and outside the sector – if you know people in the agric development sector, send them this way. If you know smart people who would just be interested in providing feedback, please also send them this way!
  • sustained readership – unfortunately there is a lot of info, so it’ll be going up in a series of posts – you gotta keep reading to get to the meat! We’ll see whether people can hang in this long.
  • understandable posts – we’re looking for feedback on whether you have any idea what we’re talking about… so let us know!

As I wrote in a previous post, our team is currently undergoing a rigorous strategy development process. Thanks to Ben‘s personal interest in the tech start-up world, we’re trying something very new: applying start-up business principles to our strategy development. For a bit of background on why we’re applying these principles, see Ben’s earlier post, Tech start-ups and human development: different worlds?. Ben will introduce you to the tech-world language, but it basically advocates a Searcher rather than a Planner mentality – figuring out what people want before scaling it to a broad level.

Ben will be writing a series of blog posts in the next few weeks describing our process, model and some of the initiatives we’re looking to invest in. I’ll post links here on my blog, but please comment over on his blog – we’re hoping to get tons of feedback and discussions going!

So, without further ado, I will guide you to the first post over on Ben’s blog: Strategy Development in Small-meal-sized Chunks.  Enjoy!

10 Mar


The Africa Portal

March 10, 2011 | By |

The Africa Portal is an online knowledge resource for policy-related issues on Africa.

“An undertaking by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Makerere University (MAK), and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), the Africa Portal offers open access to a suite of features including an online library collection; a resource for opinion and analysis; an experts directory; an international events calendar; and a mobile technology component—all aimed to equip users with research and information on Africa’s current policy issues.

A key feature to the Africa Portal is the online library collection holding over 3,000 books, journals, and digital documents related to African policy issues. The entire online repository is open access and available for free full-text download. A portion of the digital documents housed in the library have been digitized for the first time as an undertaking of the Africa Portal project. Facilitating new digitization projects is a core feature of the Africa Portal, which aims to improve access and visibility for African research.

The Africa Portal is part of the Africa Initiative project.”  (All text above is from Africa Portal About page.)

Explore the Opinion/Analysis page for some thought-provoking commentary and very useful background information.

06 Mar


EWB Guelph’s Annual Gala

March 6, 2011 | By |

Translating Actions to Impacts: EWB Guelph’s 5th Annual Gala event

Join EWB for a celebration of our collective efforts for social
change. This evening will connect students, professors, and
professionals to explore the ways that we can become social change
leaders. All proceeds from the evening will support two Guelph
undergraduate students who will be volunteering in Ghana and Malawi
this summer.

The event will take place at the Albion Hotel on Wednesday, March
23rd, 2011. Doors open at 7:30pm, and the evening commences at

Enjoy a fair trade auction, stories from past overseas volunteers,
the premier screening of EWB’s global engineering documentary, and a
variety of talented performers.

Tickets are $15 for students; $20 for professors, professional, and
community members. The ticket price listed includes appetizers.

Tickets can be securely purchased online through this link:

Contact Kevin Lees at for more details.

Come out for an unforgettable evening of inspiring dialogue and
meaningful connections!

05 Mar


African Programs Staff Positions Open !

March 5, 2011 | By |

Could This Exciting Opportunity Be Calling You ?

From Erin Flinton ~

Dear Members,

I am very excited to announce that EWB is yet again recruiting exceptional leaders to join our African Programs Staff (APS). Departure for the following positions begins in July 2011, but the positions are also available for November 2011:

In Agriculture

Team Position Location
 Agriculture Value Chains Market Development Field Officer Ghana, Zambia and potentially Tanzania
Market Development Project Manager Ghana, Zambia and potentially Tanzania
Business Development Services Business Growth Specialist Potentially Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia
Ministry of Food and Agriculture Agriculture Extension Research and Capacity Development Officer Ghana
Entrepreneuriat Rural Agricole (Français) Agriculture Capacity Building Officer Burkina Faso

In Water and Sanitation

Team Position Location
Water and Sanitation District Capacity Development and Decentralization Policy Analyst Malawi


In Governance and Rural Infrastructure

Team Position Location
Governance and Rural Infrastructure District Capacity Development and Decentralization Policy Analyst Ghana


For detailed information about the responsibilities and requirements specific to each available position, please see the attached documents. Also see for brief descriptions of the open roles.

An elite placement with EWB offers new graduates and professionals of any educational background the chance to use their skills to help change the way development is done – as an individual and as a part of a movement committed to sustainable solutions to poverty. These volunteer positions provide APS with incredible opportunities for professional growth as a social change leader, all while creating lasting impact in rural Africa. Being an APS means working with purpose, collaborating with African partners, and having a life-changing experience.

EWB’s African Programs Staff are humble entrepreneurs that become powerful change agents working as part of a larger movement for Africa.

Creating Change in Agriculture

In Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia (Tanzania and Kenya added this year), EWB is investing in the agriculture sector – the main employer and export earner in most developing countries – as a way to unlock African prosperity. Historically, Western aid has focused on dispersing subsidized fertilizer, hybrid seeds, and machines, or purchasing products from farmers as a functioning private sector would. Regrettably, these efforts simply distort markets and prevent private sector growth. EWB is addressing the underlying issues by working on two problems – helping farmers access markets and market development. To help farmers access markets we are working with Ministries of Food and Agriculture and existing farmers’ unions to provide support and information access to rural farmers. To develop markets, we work with progressive non-government organizations that are fostering private sector growth and directly with the small and medium sized businesses to help them grow and increase the number of small-scale farmers they support.  In addition to working with government, non-government and the private sector on the ground we are partnering with donors, becoming part of the donor chain to more easily share field realities and drive change at scale.

Driving Results in Water and Sanitation

EWB believes that the persistent water and sanitation challenges in Malawi, and in much of the rest of the developing world, are due to inefficient investment rather than lack of investment. EWB realizes that while drilling wells is an important part of the solution, it will never be long-term without a systemic approach. EWB focuses on changing the system to support these outputs. Beyond EWB’s creation of a simple water-point mapping and monitoring system to address this issue, the Water and Sanitation Team is also working with the government and communities to create functioning business models for water delivery, then sharing their findings within the sector and with the national government, influencing change.

Having Impact in Governance and Rural Infrastructure

In Ghana, public services, such as clean water from wells and hand pumps, reliable roads for food transport, and schools for youth, are hard to come by or have limited access. EWB is testing new approaches to evidence-based planning and developing strong decision-makers to address the root causes of this widespread infrastructure failure in Ghana. EWB volunteers are working in conjunction with local government partners to identify relevant data for decision making, to develop centralized data systems, and to analyze trends to get a better picture of where infrastructure is needed most. Rural districts can now, therefore, prioritize clean water, education, transportation, and healthcare work based on tangible data. Furthermore, EWB volunteers are testing new approaches to involve communities in planning decisions in order to better hold leaders accountable; they have also developed a mentorship program matching experienced planners with district level staff to expand the quality of planning capability at the district level.

All of EWB’s work is designed to help our local partner organizations do what they do better. Our APS add value to partners in a variety of ways including executing on project specific work, building management capacity, improving learning and accountability systems, increasing skills of field staff and creating stronger connections between different stakeholders.

Become a part of this important work by applying for one of the unique new APS positions available in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania or Zambia.

To apply, go to are due on April 8th, 2011. All positions require a minimum commitment of one year.

All costs for training, travel, and living are provided by EWB. We understand that many recent graduates may be struggling under the burden of student loans. We encourage these individuals to contact us before they have applied so that alternative means can be explored.

For more information on EWB projects in Africa and what characteristics EWB is looking for, please see

Send any questions you have to Sarah Grant at