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Engineering interventions to improve global health

Indonesia - NEW FOR 2020!
Dates June 22 - August 18
Program Focus

Working with Yayasan Kaganangan Banua (, students will work on one of two student-designed projects:

  • Floating toilets/sanitation for communities on the river (possible biogas, flood proof septic, etc.), or
  • Small-scale community-based sanitation treatment systems
Program Leaders
Service Themes
  • Environment & Conservation
  • Health & Human Services
  • Science & Engineering
  • No Foreign Language Requirement

DukeEngage-Indonesia Overview

Over the past three years, the student group Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID) has been planning with Yayasan Kaganangan Banua to partner on the identified projects. Sanitation is a critical global health issue facing much of the world, and especially in coastal and other low-lying areas where moving and treating sanitary wastes is a significant issue. DukeEngage Indonesia participants will team with Yayasan Kaganangan Banua to design and build a floating toilet system and/or community-based sanitation system in cooperation with a local community. The design will be developed as part of CE315/PPS211/ENV365: Engineering Sustainable Design and Global Community, and the students will coordinate with local technical expertise to construct the project.


Goals for Students

  • Understanding of the connections and linkages between social disadvantage and economic disempowerment
  • Understanding how community-based interventions can leverage the opportunities and standard of living
  • Participating with a local community to catalyze and infrastructure project which will improve both their standard of living and quality of life
  • Assessing potential future projects and/or collaborations


Partnership Opportunities

Students will design and construct a floating toilet system and/or community-based sanitation system in cooperation with Yayasan Kaganangan Banua, the local community, and Duke Engineers for International Development.

Potential Schedule:

  • Week 1: Language intensive (40+ hours)
  • Week 2 (beginning of week): Orientation with non-profit staff, government staff, and villagers onsite. Week 2 (end of week): Briefing, review design for any site revisions, pre-start meetings, buy materials, etc.
  • Week 3-7: Construction phase
  • Week 8: Finish construction, debrief, prepare for re-entry


Program Requirements

Coursework: Students will design the project as part of CE315/PPS211/ENV365: Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community. This course is offered WF from 11:45am-1:00pm in Spring 2020. While not required for the DukeEngage experience, being part of the design team will certainly heighten your understanding and ownership of the project, as well as the details behind the project implementation.

Other Skills: Some construction knowledge is an asset, but not required. A willingness to work hard and perform manual labor is essential. Being part of the design team associated with Duke Engineers for International Development is recommended.

Personal Qualities: Ability to take direction, work hard, and have fun.


Program Details

Description of Community: This program takes place in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. The name Kalimantan was derived from the Sanskrit for “burning weather island,” to describe its hot and humid climate. The team will likely be in South Kalimantan where most of the population practices subsistence agriculture, growing rice, maize, and cassava. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and is a majority Muslim culture. Student team members will be expected to comply with cultural norms for dress and behavior.


Housing and Meals: Students will either stay in apartments (split by genders), or one large house. Cooks will be hired to prepare meals for the team, or occasionally the team will go to local restaurants for a meal. Access to the internet will be sporadic (or non-existent).


Local Safety, Security, and Cultural Norms: If you have special needs related to health, cultural, or religious practices, please contact the DukeEngage office,, to discuss whether or not your needs can be reasonably accommodated in this program.

For information related to how your religion, race, sexual/gender identity, ability or other aspects of your identity might impact your travels, we recommend starting with the Diversity, Identity and Global Travel section of the DukeEngage website.

We encourage students who have questions or concerns about health or safety in international programs to check Duke’s International SOS (ISOS) portal for relevant information.


Reflection and Enrichment: Since the team will be living together, conversations over meals will naturally evolve toward reflective topics of race, privilege, and economic disparities, etc. Additionally, each team member will be highly encouraged to journal.

This project will be physically and emotionally demanding. However, at the end of the project, the team will leave behind a tangible product of their summer experience, which will radically change the lives of everyone in the community. Cultural/enrichment experiences will be planned based on the progress of the construction. Another item of note, since the team will be living/working/eating/sleeping together, there may not be much individual/down time.


Curricular Connections

While all students are welcome to apply, this program may be of particular interest to students studying engineering or pursuing the certificate in Global Development Engineering. Participation in this project can fulfill the “experiential” component of the Certificate in Global Development Engineering.