Filakit, Ethiopia

“All of the people in this room are smiling”


In the Spring of 2016, prominent members of the Ethiopian community near the Minneapolis and St Paul area approached EWB-USA UMN with news for a potential collaboration with a rural community in Ethiopia. At the time this agricultural community, Filakit Geragera, Ethiopia, requested insight into the improvement of current irrigation water supplies, practices, and the creation of new sources altogether. EWB-USA UMN met the request with excitement and planned extensively for an initial assessment of the area in May 2017 with a team of students and professional mentors.

The assessment yielded personal insight into community desires and requests for an improved, efficient drip irrigation system, efficient water catchment system, and solar-powered injera cooker. Engineering design and collaboration with the community began shortly after the initial assessment and continued throughout 2017 and early 2018. Design revisions, prototyping, and fundraising occupied many members throughout this period. EWB-USA approved the final designs for an innovative multi-stage drip irrigation system, an open-spring water catchment device, and a solar injera cooker prototype in March 2018. All systems were designed with materials available in Ethiopia, ensuring the accessibility and maintainability of the systems.

A team of students and professional mentors departed in May 2018 to assist Filakit Geragera in the development of these systems. The trip yielded the completion of a drip irrigation tower in a field previously unused during the dry season, the burial of supply piping to the tower from the source, and the installation of the Muzit Spring Catchment System (MSCS) to improve the efficiency of current hand-dug dirt canals. EWB-USA UMN will spend the remainder of 2018 and early 2019 planning for the completion of the drip irrigation system, final improvements for the MSCS, and further designs of the solar injera cooker.

NGO Collaboration

EWB-USA UMN communicates regularly with Filakit Geragera throughout the year. This is accomplished with the assistance of local partners within Ethiopia. The Ethiopia Project works closely with a local chain of monastery leaders in the Filakit area to provide communication, materials, skilled labor, transportation, lodging, and board assistance during the design process and trips abroad. Furthermore, the breadth and influence of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is a profound asset to the trust and safety between EWB-USA UMN and travel team members. This connection to local partners is vital. EWB-USA’s projects are most effective when the project trinity – collaboration between individual chapters, communities, and NGOs – works together and communicates regularly to develop sustainable projects in the best interest of the communities requesting the services.

Where We Are

For more information, contact:

Lily Hock at or Colin Bain at

Ethiopia Project Meetings are held every Tuesday in Lind Hall 320 from 7-8:00 pm.

Muzit Spring Catchment System

Check out the work we have been doing to harness spring water using a catchment system. A similar system was implemented in the community in May 2018.