Guatemala Rain Harvest and Water Distribution Project


The rural community of Chocantariy is in desperate need of clean water. Residents typically rely on filthy streams as the source for all of their water needs, including drinking, bathing, and washing clothes. Many of these streams dry up shortly after the rainy season ends because of the community’s geographic location, further placing stress on families to meet water demands. Women and young children are often burdened with the task of retrieving water multiple times each day from these streams kilometers away from their homes, drawing time away from school or other household responsibilities. Since the community receives considerable rainfall roughly half of the year, our project seeks to provide an accessible means to store this potable water for the families to use throughout the dry season.


An extensive household survey in the community revealed that a proposed groundwater supply system is technically feasible yet financially unsustainable. The alternative of rainwater collection was investigated and successful Phases I and II of the project implementation demonstrated the feasibility and sustainability of such rainwater collection system. Phase III and IV look to build on the success of Phase I and II and establish more rainwater collection systems to accommodate more families. UCLA-EWB has partnered with CasaSito a local Guatemalan Non-Governmental Organization, to build rainwater catchment systems throughout the community of Chocantairy, Guatemala. So far we have successfully implemented thirty-three (33) rainwater collection systems that are actively in use.

Phase II

Our evaluation will be focused on sanitation and education. During the upcoming June 2014 trip, we will take water samples to evaluate the sanitation of the water that the tanks are providing. However, our project does not focus solely on the quality of the drinking water, but also on educating the community about practicing sanitation every day. On our closing trip to Guatemala we will also evaluate the community's knowledge of sanitation practices and educate the community about sanitation by distributing pamphlets and giving presentations. Our presentation will include information about filtering and boiling the water from the tanks before consumption and the importance of washing hands. Furthermore we will be providing a step-by-step instruction manual that teaches the families how to construct and maintain a tank on their own. The instruction manual will be the picture based IKEA-like manual to avoid the language barrier. Furthermore the manual will have text accompanying each picture, as to provide more instructions to those who can read. The text will be translated from English to both Spanish and Ki’che (a native Mayan language spoken in the community). The instruction manuals will be distributed throughout the community to ensure those families who have a tank can maintain it, and those families that seek to build a tank will have easy access to a manual.

To test the water quality of the tanks made, we will perform various tests: Coliform, E. coli, and pH. Our goal is to have these tests’ results comply with the World Health Organization standards. For E. coli, the criterion is that our samples must not have any E. coli detectable in any 100 mL sample. For treated water the same recommendation is also given for total coliform bacteria, with a provision for up to 5% positive samples within the distribution system. The rationale for this additional criterion is the greater sensitivity of total coliforms for detecting irregularities (not necessarily fecal contamination) in treatment and distribution. Safe drinking water pH levels typically fall between 6 and 8.5. We also plan to create a health survey and talk with the village community members to gauge if the number of days they are ill a year is reduced due to the water tanks constructed through the project.

We hope that by the end of this trip, EWB-UCLA will have truly left an impact in the community of Chocantariy, Guatemala and will have given the community tools and knowledge necessary to provide clean water for a lifetime. Throughout the span of the project, the UCLA team has been so fortunate to work with such an encouraging and kind community that is eager to learn and grow. Furthermore the students in the Guatemala team have shown that they can apply their knowledge, teamwork, and perseverance to a cause that is truly worthwhile, and without the hard work of the students the project would not be where it is today.


Thailand Schoolhouse

Past Project Leads

Kelsey Wittels

EWB-UCLA was recruited to assist the residents of Nor Lae by The Royal Project of Thailand after completing high-quality work elsewhere in the country. In 2008, the project was opened by Jordan Spatz and the schoolhouse was completed in 2009. The capacity of the Nor Lae school is up to 100 preschool-age students. Presently about 50 students ages four through eight are being educated in the school. The village has utilized the school’s extra space as a community center and to store medical supplies.


The school provides the only early educational opportunity for the expanding population of village. It enables the children of Nor Lae to integrate into Thai education system. The long term goal of the school is to provide early childhood education, therefore increasing the likelihood of the pursuit of higher education which improves the socio-economic situation for the Palaung hill tribe and surrounding community.


In June 2013, a travel team was sent to Thailand for 7 days to conduct a monitoring trip on the schoolhouse. Our goal to ensure the sustainability of this preschool so that future generations can benefit from this infrastructure was not achieved. Unfortunately, the schoolhouse was not prioritized and so the village’s resources were directed into building a road to the village temple instead.


With the Thailand schoolhouse project completed, the Thailand project team had considered planning a drainage system around the schoolhouse as the area would flood during rainy seasons. Unfortunately, this did not end up going through, and the Thailand project is now closed.


BOOTUP - Computer Refurbishment and Education

Past Project Lead

Rohit Mathew

BOOTUP is a project within EWB dedicated to the collection and refurbishment of used computers and computer parts. The equipment is then used to a set up a computer lab for a school with an adequate need. The purpose of this project is to bring basic computer tools to students which can be used to further the education process.

The computers are accepted from both private and public parties. They can range from individuals with personal machines they no longer need, to companies looking to dispose of old systems. The criteria for donations is as follows: machines that are 10 years old or newer, basic functionality, can be refurbished with minimum cost and time.


Phase I

BOOTUP was founded in 2005 as a way to tie in outreach and community work with engineering and specific technical skills. BOOTUP is a computer education group that would be sustained on donations from private/corporate sources. These donations include computers and related equipment and would be used in computer-building workshops. When the students completed the program, they would get to keep the computers they worked on. 




  • Four-week build workshop

  • 4-7 consistent volunteers per quarter

  • Refurbished and donated over 30 computers

  • Partnered with CYFCLA (Community Youth Family Collaborative - Los Angeles)

  • Partnered also with the UCLA Center for Community Learning

  • Went for at least 3-4 consecutive quarters to Dorsey High School Los Angeles

  • Coordinated donations from Boeing, Prossum Tech, and miscellaneous private donors

  • Registered our group as a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) through (This allows us to be listed as a "refurbishing group" in various websites when people inquiry about reuse, recycle, and refurbishing old equipment.)

  • Being an MAR also allowed us to order licenses and software supported through the program - this helped us load up the computers with relevant programs for the students


Phase II


BOOTUP as a computer lab builder. We would prepare the computers at UCLA to bring to schools that needed it, and install/setup the computer lab.


View Park Prep school, South Los Angeles – identified for donation because they have no computer lab on-campus, forcing students to walk down dangerous streets/intersections to use computers at the local community center
Set up a computer lab of 7-10 units; installed Windows XP and Office
Computer lab set up as a college center, where students would be able to fill out applications and research university information
Helped four students apply and get accepted into the Summer @ CENS internship at UCLA
Coordinated over 8 speakers to give demos to students. Topics included: wastewater treatment, music and physics, hydrogen cell car, circuits, New Orleans and social work, digital art, and more
Field trips with the students to UCLA - Engineers' Week April 2008 and Safari at Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey April 2008

Phase III

Los Angeles New Charter School

BOOTUP has now donated over 20 computers to LA New Charter School. The computers have basic Internet browsing capabilities and word processing software. The machines are being used by the students for research and class projects. Many of the students do not have acess to PC's at home so the computer lab has been a great way for them to be exposed to the educational benefits of computers in the classroom. 

This project is now closed. Thank you everyone who donated computers to BOOTUP!

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