Failure Report

ENGINEERS Without Borders (EWB) is a world-wide NGO in various countries that adopts engineering solutions to meet the needs of developmental work.

EWB Canada, upon realising the importance of acknowledging failures, publishes an annual Failure Report citing their biggest failure projects to let others learn from their mistakes.

In a TEDx talk in 2011, one of the founding contributors of EWB Canada, David Damberger discussed how aid groups repeat mistakes over decades thinking they have solved the issue. What they don’t realise, he said, is that poor planning would eventually turn the designed systems into white elephants.

Damberger spoke about his own experience in India where he designed and built rainwater harvesting systems for the community there. A year later, all systems broke down as there was no scheduling for maintenance.

Since 2008, the Failure Report published by EWB Canada tells stories of unsuccessful projects and what the groups (which worked on them) learned from their failed ventures.

Damberger felt that the public reports were also necessary as project donors believed that it would be an injustice not to share the failure stories because of the powerful lessons one could gain from them.

With the help of two friends, Damberger turned it to a global project by launching – a platform for organisations across the globe to share stories about their failed attempts to promote knowledge sharing in developmental areas.

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