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World Humanitarian Day
 
In celebration of World Humanitarian Day, we are highlighting efforts by volunteers with Engineers Without Borders USA to help create and sustain job opportunities in refugee communities. Through such efforts, the organization helps individuals from these communities exercise their right to work.  
 

 "Everyone has the right to work..."

-Article 23, Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

 
Founded by National Academy of Engineering member Dr. Bernard Amadei, Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) aims to build a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs. Its nearly 15,000 members volunteer their time, energy, and expertise on projects around the world to assist communities in need and to build capacity so that communities can support themselves for years to come. EWB-USA’s projects help communities realize a vast array of human rights, including the right to work. The project outlined below is an example of how EWB-USA has worked with refugee communities to create jobs and implement sustainable practices that allow the communities to maintain their livelihoods long-term.
 

Solar Job Creation for Somali Refugees
More than 200,000 displaced Somalis reside in refugee camps in Ethiopia. Though these camps offer refuge from famine, civil war, and violence, they also offer difficult living conditions and few work opportunities. A major obstacle faced in these camps is the lack of electricity, as the Ethiopian electric system ends hundreds of miles outside of the camps' borders. Without reliable sources of power, even the most basic daily tasks often become laborious and dangerous. To combat this issue, EWB-USA volunteers have assisted with the installation of solar micro-grids throughout the camps, which now support medical clinics, businesses and shops, and other community needs. EWB-USA’s volunteers have not only installed the micro-grids, but also worked to train local electricians in solar technology, offering them highly sought-after and transferable skills that can lead to profitable work opportunities. The training has also ensured that individuals are able to continue tending to the power structures, ensuring that the camps have a sustainable source of energy. Read more about this project.

EWB Solar Energy
 
For more information on how you can use your expertise to promote human rights, including by working with EWB-USA, browse the volunteering opportunities featured on the CHR site.