• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Engineering Solution in Kenya

Danielle Dahan and Ana Heureux will travel to the Ganze District in Kenya this summer to work with the organization KOMAZA. KOMAZA is an NGO in Kenya working directly with small-scale farmers to enhance sustainable development and increase production and profit for these farmers. Rather than addressing poverty through monetary donations, KOMAZA has developed a bottom-up approach to addressing poverty by increasing production through agroforesty, which in turn allows farmers to profit from selling their crop. KOMAZA has changed the lives of many farmers who have successfully mastered the cultivation of high demand trees and transformed their farms to be far more productive. In addition to aiding KOMAZA in expanding its agribusiness branch, Danielle and Ana both have very specific focal projects based on their academic focuses and work with Engineering Solutions in Kenya over the past two years.  Both Ana and Danielle's projects are focused around the increasing problem of food security in rural Kenya, but the two plan to approach the solution from different angles.  Ana, a geobiology concentrator, will be working directly with soil fertility and soil replenishment, while Danielle, a Mechanical Engineering concentrator will be working with farming technologies for small-scale farmers.  Having various approaches to solving this problem is appropriate considering how complex the issue of food security is and how much needs to be done in order to curb the current trend of malnutrition and poverty.

Personal Statement

I am a concentrator in the geological science department with a focus in geobiology.  My coursework focuses on the integration of biology into geologic processes.  Science is continually becoming interdisciplinary and I hope to use my education in this area applied to agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.  I started working on the Engineers Without Boarders project in 2008 looking at cultivation of amaranth in Kenya.  I had no engineering background, but am interested in the design process from the work I have done with visual arts in the past and the project in Kenya sounded like an exciting one to work on. Our goal for the project was to design cultivation tools specifically for amaranth that would be affordable and allow for more production and less contamination of the seed. We finished last year with a successful prototype that effectively removed the amaranth grain from the head.  We produced CAD diagrams of our prototype and its different components that could potentially be used to reconstruct the model in the future with different materials.  In an independent study with professor Chris Bull,  I completed a literature review and proposals to test methods of soil replenishment and cultivation in areas with environments similar to Kenya.  Danielle Dahan and I plan to implement new cultivation and environmental remediation methods within the already successful format of the organization KOMAZA.