The community of Tenganan in eastern Bali, Indonesia, has requested technical assistance from Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) to improve the quantity and quality of water delivered through their water supply system. This is a unique development project in which the Tenganan people have identified their own needs and developed their own conceptual solution to the problem. For the first time, EWB is undertaking the design phase for the water system by an off-shore design team and project assistance team (PAT) based in Australia. This allows EWB to draw on resources and experience of EWB members and their employing companies in Australia. It also enables young engineers to develop skills and experience in development work without having to leave the country. However, the innovative approach also presented significant challenges to the project members, particularly in establishing appropriate design criteria and the co-ordination of simultaneous activities across Australia. This paper describes the approach taken by EWB and makes a preliminary assessment of the benefits and limitations inherent in this approach. The overall aim of the project is to produce a successful “bottom-up” development action that will deliver a sustainable solution to the Tenganan community.

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