Global partnerships for local solutions: Helping Yemen’s young engineers fight COVID-19

March 24

9-10:30 a.m. Central

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Dana Cook
EWB Volunteer and Professor of Practice, Marquette University

Rebecca Alcock
UW IPO International COVID-19 Engagement Coordinator

Luca Renda
Senior Strategic Advisor, Crisis Bureau, UNDP

Arvind Kumar
Project Manager, UNDP Yemen

Yemeni Engineer


Henry Bonsu

Yemen is considered the worst humanitarian crisis since the war began in the country in early 2015. The country has been struggling with security, health and economic challenges that have overshadowed the lives of the Yemeni people. 

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across Yemen, the already struggling health system was put under increasing pressure to provide specialized care. The challenges of the health sector in Yemen are many but there is a primary challenge in the insufficient number of medical machines and devices that are crucial for the fight against COVID-19. 

Despite the consequences of war affecting 90% of the Yemeni people – including food insecurity, disease, unemployment, displacement and more – there is still hope and with unprecedented times, came unprecedented innovation with a number of Yemenis forced to develop new ideas to help combat COVID-19 in Yemen. 

This can be seen in the work being done by a group of young mechatronic engineers who developed medical machinery and other items essential for COVID-19 prevention and response. After receiving support from UNDP, these engineers developed several prototypes for hospital gowns, face shields, ventilators, and a mask making machine with the capacity to produce 72,000 masks per day. The engineers were also supported through a partnership with Engineers without Borders and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who provided technical expertise and mentoring. 

Following prototyping and fine tuning, these new machines are being produced affordable and using local resources. Products and designs are now being distributed to MSMEs to provide them with the assets required to mass-produce protective equipment and grow their business. 

To celebrate this and provide a platform for reflection and review, UNDP, together with Engineers Without Borders and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will host a public webinar. 

This event is a collaboration between the UNDP, Engineers Without Borders, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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