NIC Community Education instructor to support water project in Africa
North Idaho College Community Education Instructor Renee Bourque will travel to Ethiopia and Kenya later this month through her position as project manager and fund developer for 21st Century Basic Human Services, a nonprofit organization that supports water quality and education, community health and economic development internationally.
“I've certainly never been a part of a project of this scale,” Bourque said. “This project provides a great opportunity for growth for me both personally and professionally.”
Bourque holds a master's degree in education from Seattle University and lives in Seattle when not spending time in Coeur d'Alene teaching grant writing classes at the NIC Workforce Training Center. Last year, Bourque taught several classes along with her mother Janet, who is also a local grant writer from Coeur d'Alene.
Bourque writes grants and provides organizational development and strategic planning services for various agencies as owner of Bright Star Grant Consultants. It was in this role that she was sought out by representatives from 21st Century Basic Human Services for help with a water project intended to bring clean water systems to underdeveloped areas of Ethiopia and Kenya.
Currently, people of this region must walk for up to three days to find mostly contaminated water.
“Unfortunately, the failure rate for water projects is 70 percent in the first five years,”
Bourque said. “That's because typically these groups come in, establish a water system without the community's input and then leave. These local people don't know how to use it and without sanitation education the water system becomes contaminated anyway.”
This is why Bourque and others working on this project are traveling to Ethiopia and Kenya to meet with leaders on the national, regional and local levels to establish political alliances and begin dialogue on how to encourage community participation and support of the project.
“We will really be starting from the very beginning and not only establishing a water system, but also providing water education and community health education to increase the likelihood of success,” Bourque said.
Bourque will also visit other successful water projects and establish a field office in the region for conducting a feasibility study for the water project.
The project's short-term goal is the establishment of an accessible system for providing clean water. Long-term goals include the creation of a wildlife refuge in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya as well as new schools, health clinics and businesses.
But as a first step, access to clean water is crucial for economic development in this and other areas of Africa, according to Bourque.
“It takes special people to dedicate themselves to this kind of work on behalf of other people,” Bourque said. “I just feel fortunate to be a part of it.”For More Information
NIC Community Education Instructor Renee Bourque, (360) 556-6744Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005