Detalj från sjukhusbyggnad på Mkula Hospital
​Exterior from Mkula Hospital  Photo: Moa Strålman ​

Fresh knowledge put to the test in hospital project

​The stay in Tanzania can be described as the journey of her life and she brought back a positive and unique insight into a new culture. Moa Strålman, one of the Chalmers students who annually collaborates with Engineers Without Borders, shares her experience of relocating part of her studies to a completely different continent.
​Through Engineers/Architects Without Borders' project "Healthy Hospitals" in Tanzania, Chalmers students each year take the opportunity to contribute their newfound knowledge where it’s needed the most. For Moa Strålman and Ellen Blanksvärd's part, the assignment was about planning for a new lab and supervise the construction of a new RCH care unit at Mkula Hospital in Kitsomo. An assignment that really put their knowledge to the test!   
   – On location our mission was partly to act as the link between the project group and the hospital, and partly to act as supervisors, coordinators and technical consultants for the ongoing construction work, explains Moa. A task of great responsibilities, she adds.   
Moa Strålman took the undergraduate program Civil Engineering 180 credits, and with the Bachelors´ thesis the possibility to join EWB and go to Tanzania appeared. The aim of the thesis was to examine the long-term quality of the project process, with the planned construction work at Mkula Hospital as the case study.       

Efforts that make a difference 

In parallel to the ongoing project of constructing the RCH unit, Moa and her fellow student Ellen Blanksvärd planned for the hospitals´ laboratory which needed renovation as well as expansion – a work that is expected to start during 2021. Moa can confirm that the need of support on location is great and resources scarce, hence made efforts account for a true difference.   
   – It felt amazing to be able to use skills and knowledge from education in this way. We received a fantastic reception, and our job was really appreciated by the hospital staff. We are still in regular contact with some of our on-site collaborators, says Moa.   
Thanks to their network on location Moa and Ellen can continue to follow the work and progress from a distance, and not only see the project through – but hopefully also see that the implemented measures are utilized and appreciated by the local community.   

Collaboration with mutual respect   

Working in a completely different culture and with limited resources was of course a challenge. But Moa’s main takeaway from her stay in Kitsomo is a humble approach to the difference in living conditions, and great respect for the knowledge and experience of the local team and hospital staff. The work carried out at the hospital is planned by engineers without borders together with the hospital management and the local district engineer - based on the needs that on-site are identified as most critical.   
   – The lack of resources means that factors we hardly ever think of, such as access to water, sewage and electricity, cannot be taken for granted. Tough conditions to operate in! Hence, the long-term focus is crucial, striving for a sustainable infrastructure where we contribute with resources to support the hospital to a flying start, after which they carry out maintenance and further development by themselves, says Moa.   

Background and links

Engineers Without Borders & Architects Without Borders and their projects in Tanzania have indirectly been supported by Chalmers Mastercard Scholarships via Chalmers students for several years. This is also the case for Moa Strålman och and fellow student Ellen Blanksvärd who were among the students awarded with the scholarship in 2020. Read more about the Chalmers Mastercard Scholarships
The on-site team driving the project are alumnae from Chalmers engaged in EWO or ASF. Also involved in the projects together with Moa and Ellen was masters’ students Bassem Hewidi och David Jaros, whose contribution to the project formed background for their masters´ thesis. Read more about Engineers Without Borders and their work at Mkula Hospital in Kitsomo, Tanzania.
Moa Strålman now holds a Bachelors’ degree from the undergraduate program of Civil Engineering 180 credits and proceeds her studies at Chalmers with Industrial Ecology. Her fellow student and co-writer Ellen Blanksvärd also took the Civil Engineering 180 credits program. Link to the Bachelors’ thesis: Project Management challenges that affect lifespan of constructions in development aid project – A Case Study through Healthy Hospital Project in Tanzania.  
Supervisor was Martine Buser, assistant Professor at the Division of Construction Management at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. 

Text:Catharina Björk

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Mar 2021.