Engineer commits to Cambodian water project

12 January 2011

James Oakley

Cambodia Calls: Waikato University engineering graduate James Oakley will spend 12 months in Cambodia working for Engineers Without Borders (EWB), on projects to improve water quality and availability in villages.

A Waikato University engineering graduate is moving to Cambodia for a year to work on projects that will improve water availability and quality in villages there.

Raglan-based James Oakley, who completed his degree in materials and process engineering, has been awarded a position with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia.

The organisation works with developing communities in Australia and overseas helping them gain access to the knowledge, resources and appropriate technologies they need to improve their livelihoods.

“Before starting university, I spent five years travelling, mostly in Asia and Africa,” says James. “So I started my degree always planning to return to places I’d visited with the idea of giving something back. After four years of study, I’d almost forgotten my reasons for starting the degree, but then my uncle put me on to EWB Australia.”

James leaves for Phnom Penh at the end of the month, having already spent some time in Australia to prepare for his 12 months in Cambodia.

“My official title will be a WASH or water, sanitation and hygiene adviser. EWB is working in partnership with Rain-Water Cambodia, a local NGO and my job will be to work with them to help local communities find solutions to access drinking water and sanitation. I’ll be working with the local organisation to find the best and most efficient ways to collect and store rainwater, keep it clean and free from contamination.”

James will first have to find accommodation when he lands in the city, but his job will involve travel around project sites in several rural provinces. That’ll give him a good understanding of how the rain water programmes work and what’s needed. “I’ll be helping to build the skills of local staff for project and technical management, and also work with them to research and design better systems.”

He’s currently trying to raise $5000 to support his trip.

Anyone interested in supporting James can visit for more information.

VIDEO: Watch James Oakley talk about his fund raising efforts here.

James explains in the video below what kind of engineering skills he will be using on the water projects.


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