Over the last month we have been exceedingly busy developing grant applications for the Climate Adaptations in Mountain Basins In the Andean Region (CAMBIAR) Program. CAMBIAR, which in Spanish means “to change”, is the name that has been chosen to describe the program between the Greater Austin Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, The Mountain Institute, and the Tres Cuencas Commonwealth.

Our grant writing work started with our creation of a Joint Development Strategy (download our Joint Development Strategy Template here). The Strategy helps partner organizations understand each other’s fundraising experience and policies. Then it analyzes identified grant opportunities with these considerations.

After meeting with partner organizations and finalizing our Joint Development Strategy, we identified five grants for our first round of applications. CAMBIAR, being a program which includes an American non-profit organization, an international non-governmental organization, and a local government entity, is potentially eligible for a wide range of funding opportunities. Our first round of grants reflects this diversity and includes applications to the European Commission, USAID, and private and public foundations.

The most rewarding part of the grant writing process so far has been working with the Tres Cuencas Commonwealth and the Campesina Community of Huasta to develop and submit applications. The Tres Cuencas Commonwealth, one of the partners in the MOU, is a newly formed local government entity dedicated to helping its 25 member municipalities adapt to the challenges of climate change. Campesina communities, like the one in Huasta, were formed throughout Peru in the late 1960s to redistribute land and resources to historically marginalized Quechua peoples. The Campesina Community of Huasta represents 140 families that collectively manage hundreds of hectares of land. Both the Commonwealth and Campesina Community are exceedingly eager to make the program successful and have each taken the lead on one of the first round applications.

James and Taylor in Lima to submit an application to the European Commission with Fidel Rodriguez Rivera, the Manager of the Mancomunidad Municipal Tres Cuencas.

In the next month we should start receiving feedback and will be able to make plans for a second round of applications. In the meantime we are taking a short vacation to the Amazon. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Last Tuesday marked the end of the first EWB-AUS Peru Program assessment trip. Much was accomplished in the course of the two week assessment. In Huaraz, the team met with local scientists, professors, and community organizations to learn about water issues and research in the region. We were also able to visit two communities of the Tres Cuencas Commonwealth: Canrey Chico and Huasta, and meet with the mayors, community presidents, and many residents.

The level of interest in working with EWB-AUS in the communities has been extremely encouraging. This interest was also evident on August 10 when the Tres Cuencas Commonwealth, The Mountain Institute, and EWB-AUS signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Chiquian. Executing the MOU was a major milestone for all parties and a deliverable under Coseppi’s agreement with EWB-AUS.

As is often the case with project milestones, the MOU’s celebration has quickly been succeeded with a lot of work! James Seppi has developed several maps of the assessment sites in ArcGIS and maps in Picasa that relate relevant photographic information to important geographic points. This data will help engineers in Austin visualize locations as they embark on their design work. Taylor Cook has been working on a development strategy to help the parties of the MOU identify funding partners. Over the next few weeks she will be working with representatives of EWB-AUS’ partner organizations to develop proposals and meeting with potential donors.


James and Taylor on assessment in Canrey Chico

After a few days in Lima, we are now in Huaraz (map).  We are slowly adjusting to the high altitude and yesterday took a hike to Laguna Ahuak which sits at above 14,000 ft!

Later today we will be joined by one of the leaders of the Engineers Without Borders Greater Austin (EWB-AUS) Peru Project to begin work on the project’s first assessment trip.  Our team, consisting of Laura Read, Dr. Daene McKinney, Caryn McKinney, James Seppi, and Taylor Cook, will be meeting with The Mountain Institute (TMI) and representatives of the local “Tres Cuencas Commonwealth” communities to assess project feasibility and begin work on a memorandum of understanding for the project.  During this assessment we will visit at least two of the communities high in the Andes to learn about their water practices and problems and to discuss a starting point for the EWB-AUS project.

After the EWB-AUS assessment ends on August 15, Coseppi will remain in Huaraz until the end of November to provide on-the-ground support for the project.  We will also be working toward a unified development strategy to secure funding for the project by preparing grant applications that take into consideration all aspects of the project and the three organizations involved in it.

We have been blessed to spend the last two months traveling around the United States and Canada. We had the opportunity to visit friends, celebrate wedding and births, and explore more beautiful and wild corners of the continent.  You can see snippets of some of our photos from the trip in the headers of this website. More photos can be viewed on our Picasa site.


We will be leaving our home in Austin, TX, to begin our journeys on May 27th, the day of our 3rd anniversary.  We’ve met many good friends and coworkers here in Austin, and we will surely miss everyone!  As this day was the start of our first big journey as newlyweds 3 years ago, we hope our next steps will be as successful as the first.