As a group of 6 civil engineering students, we spent 6 weeks working with the organisation Sport in Action in Lusaka, Zambia. Sport in Action aid the development of young people through sport.
One project was the construction of a netball court at a high school, for use by the school and community. As well as project management, we were involved with the design, where we used previous knowledge from university as well as learning and adapting to local methods used by the contractors.
The other project was the renovation of changing rooms which were in a state of disrepair, including a degrading asbestos roof, for which there had been plans to remove parts and patch it up. This obviously was a severe hazard, and we found that awareness of the health implications of asbestos was much less than that in the UK. Therefore, a main focus was to implement suitable health and safety measures for the handling and total removal of the asbestos, and we hope to have raised awareness for all involved.
We also had the opportunity to visit a rural site outside of Lusaka, where Sport in Action were involved in the construction of some latrines for an elementary school and asked for us to advise on these. Visiting the site was a great experience, with already existing latrines, to see things that we had learnt about at university in practice. We were able to give advice and produce drawings and required quantities for the project. Throughout, we were able to experience the Zambian culture and way of life; living with locals in a typical residential area of Lusaka, buying from the local markets and taking the public buses.
Overall, the projects have been successful and greatly beneficial; we have produced quality constructions which should last for years to come, increasing sporting opportunities and benefiting the local communities. As students, by being so heavily involved, we were able to apply and develop knowledge gained at university, whilst also gaining many new skills, and the added adaptation to a new culture.
Lana Harding, Final year Civil and Architectural Engineering