Engineering2Empower (E2E) seeks to overcome the challenges of establishing safe and affordable permanent housing in the developing world. Limited financial resources, the absence of codes and standards, and poor quality control currently govern these housing sectors. E2E’s current focus is on Haiti, where more than three years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, the majority of displaced families are still in transitional shelters, looking for permanent housing they can call “home”. Forced evictions have disbanded many of the camp settlements, leaving most to vie on their own for housing.
E2E has formulated an innovative approach to navigate the aforementioned constraints, and ultimately support self-financed recovery in the residential housing sector. The E2E model fundamentally shifts the structural system used in residential construction from the established masonry system toward a frame and panel system. Through this approach, the limited resources available to Haitian families are engineered into a U.S. code compliant concrete frame (“skeleton” of structure), while lightweight concrete panels are then introduced to simply enclose and partition the home (“skin” of the structure). The level of safety against earthquakes and hurricanes is drastically increased, but the cost, materials, and skill sets required remain exactly the same as the current model.
Through other innovations, such as customizable payment plans, prefabricated components, and standardized designs, E2E is additionally able to deliver the model through locally operated businesses. Unlike other developing world housing solutions, E2E is able to supply safe, affordable homes in a culturally appropriate and financially sustainable way, solely dependent on existing skill sets and locally available materials.
Definition of Problem
To date, there are few permanent housing program models for the developing world that do not resemble the “volunteer model” – aka a team of builders donates money, makes a trip, and contributes labor towards construction. E2E is interested in creating a model that engages partners and donors while also meeting its commitment to empowering a local housing market. One potential solution is an advocacy trip model, where partners and donors are engaged through exposure, and not labor. In reference to this question, E2E would like to explore the experience of leading development organizations (CARE, PIH, Oxfam, etc.) that are sophisticated about engaging partners in their project work. We would be interested in better understanding the different models of engagement, including the costs of advocacy trips and fundraising and their return on investment for use in programming, as well as how this type of program might most effectively advance E2E’s commitment to empowerment.
Initial Steps and Options
- Work closely with Dustin Mix in Haiti, as well as advisors Erik Jensen and Kevin Fink (who are in the master’s program in civil engineering at ND) to define more clearly the project and proposed outcome.
- Identify the list of development organizations that are most effective at using partner and donor advocacy trips.
Definition of Success
A clear analysis on the value, opportunities, and risks of developing a partner and donor advocacy trip strategy (including different approaches), with concrete and operational recommendations. This will include an analysis of other similar programs, including the cost of fundraising, trips, and the return on those investments in terms of program funding.