Brooke leads student trip to Rwanda

From December 2019-January 2020, Brooke led a group of 11 undergraduate students to Rwanda for a service-learning study abroad. Over the Fall 2019 semester, Brooke helped students design and plan the construction for a small-scale community water sanitation system. This system uses natural biological features of sand and stone to filter dangerous bacteria and sediment out of the water that community members in Rilima, Rwanda typically use for consumption.

In ten days, the group worked alongside local artisans in Rilima to construct the system. During the trip, the team handled numerous design and construction changes, which ended in the upsizing of the system’s storage capacity by five times the original design. The final water sanitation system produces approximately 3,000 liters of clean drinking water a day. The daily production is able to meet the needs for drinking water for approximately 600 individuals or domestic water needs (washing, cooking, drinking, etc) for approximately 150 individuals.


Moving forward, this project creates a blueprint for affordable water sanitation systems using extremely contaminated lake water. Along with her community partners, Brooke is developing plans to design similar systems for other areas surrounding the lakes in Rilima.

Here is a video the students created about the project.



Tripp Shealy • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering • Virginia Tech