Engineers Without Borders: An Assessment

Ian Smillie

July 2008


In the summer of 2008, we invited Ian Smillie, a prolific development author who has won the order of Canada after a thirty-year career in international development, to review our overseas program (in Southern Africa). Among his conclusions:

Is EWB creating the best development workers? If they aren’t the best, they are certainly very good. They are eager, enthusiastic, sensitive, deeply inquisitive and hard working. They are carefully selected, well trained and well supported. These attributes are observable, but they are corroborated by their managers and co-workers, and by the requests for replacement and new volunteers. Most are having a direct and positive impact on the projects and people with whom they work.

EWB is adding value, building useful and needed capacities among development workers, projects and its partner organizations. Its work on M&E is important and innovative, and is recognized as such by partner organizations. EWB is building a solid internal foundation of experience and knowledge on specific countries, sectors and approaches. The challenge now, one that exercises volunteers and staff alike, is how to build on this foundation so that the whole can become greater than the sum of the parts.

EWB has shown great skill in the recruitment, selection, training and placement of volunteers. They do add value, and they are valued by their partner organizations. The organization is poised in many ways to do much more, and some of this is discussed in the report. With the right kind of support and encouragement, EWB will make it happen.

Click here to read Ian's report (.PDF) »