Skip to Main Content














You are in the main content
Cover Photo Image

Sustainable Design and Development in Benin


Port-Novo, Benin

Program Description

The activities supported by WATER for Africa fall into four major areas, with priority given to projects that address the need for clean drinking water and other projects in Benin. This program will work with WATER for Africa, a 501 c.3. nonprofit organization. WATER is an acronym for West Africa: Technology, Education, and Reciprocity. Water also describes our particular interest in water-related health issues, although we also address broader health and quality of life issues that have their origins in social and environmental conditions. Our Mission is to help the citizens of Benin and other countries in west Africa have clean drinking water. We also support sustainable technical, engineering, education, and health projects that advance health and overall quality of life in Benin and other west African countries by improving social and environmental conditions and promoting awareness and education. 1) Direct support of community-identified projects to address social and environmental issues that affect health and quality of life in west Africa. 2) Support for individuals from the US to travel to west Africa to be involved in specific projects or to provide project consultation when needed and invited. 3) Support for educational programs that raise awareness of west African history, culture, politics, and current challenges. 4) Support for individuals from west Africa to travel to the US to provide community and academic educational programs and enhance their own learning about ways to improve life in their home country.

Location Description

Benin is a country that is representative of much of sub-Saharan Africa. In this West African country of approximately 8.5 million people, nearly a third of the population lacks access to potable water. Contaminated water, lack of infrastructure and limited access to health care are hurdles that must be overcome in Benin and throughout the region in order to meet the targets set by United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Trained individuals are needed that understand participatory development and have the technical skills to address complex development issues. The Songhai Center is a United Nations Center of Excellence - a model of sustainable development that is being replicated in 17 countries throughout Africa. The vision of the Songhai Center is to establish an entrepreneurial platform of integrated development, an enabling environment to find social, economic, technical, and organizational solutions that will take Africans out of poverty, pulling them towards autonomy and sustainable socioeconomic development. Dr. Striebig has been working with Father Nzamujo Godfrey, director of SC, to implement point-of-use water treatment technology since 2004. Centre Afrika Obota (C.A.O.) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that aims to contribute to African unity and development through research and indigenous resource mobilization, education, promotion of democracy and human rights at the grassroots, solidarity and panafricanism. Gonzga University and James Madison University have worked with CAO on improving resources at CAO organized health clinics. In 2010, these organizations helped to install palm oil machinery in the village of Houezounme Kpevi. This support, in the words of project manager, Marino de Souza, “will bring a revolution in development, allowing women in the work cooperative to afford school and health care for their children.” The proposed project will illustrate the work of Centre Afrika Obota (CAO). CAO social workers and development specialists work with rural villages to help provide access to education, financial planning, and appropriate technologies. Benin has a rich cultural history that includes west African music, voodoo, and was a center of the colonial slave trade. Benin's beauty, culture, history and leadership in sustainable development make it an ideal place to study the contextual issues associated with sustainable development.


Bradley Striebig | | Engineering


Accommodations will be provided for through residence halls/dormitories, with two meals per day included in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

Students will participate in coursework and project development during the earlier part of the summer. The projects developed will be implemented at the Songhai Center, a United Nations Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development. While at Songhai, students will interact with staff from various NGOs.

Accommodations, lodging, board and transportation will be provided by the Songhai Center. The Songhai Center also houses one of the fastest internet Cafe in Benin, for communication.

Visas are required.

Medicine or vaccines for malaria, yellow fever, and other CDC guidelines must be followed for travel to Benin. Details about CDC travel guidelines will be provided.

This program is best intended for environmental science, engineering, and ISAT students, but all majors are welcome to apply and project work will be directed towards students, competencies, strengths and interests.

Students will be expected to work closely with people of another culture.

CHEM 131 is a prerequisite for the program

Application Process

For this program, students are required to submit the following material(s):

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0.

For more detailed instructions and to download the application, please click on the following link to the Applications and Forms section for JMU Short-Term Programs.

Official transcript required for first-semester transfer students and non-JMU students.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ENGR 411: Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering and Design (3 credits)

ENGR 480: Advanced Topics in Engineering - Field Studies in International Sustainable Development (3 credits)