SAFAD Charity celebrates 50 years of international impact School 2011 Image: Cranfield University

Charity has sent hundreds of graduate and postgraduate volunteers to nearly 40 countries

A charity which helps improve the lives of people overseas, especially in the developing world, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Silsoe Aid For Appropriate Development (SAFAD) is run by students at Cranfield University. Since 1969, it has sent hundreds of graduate and postgraduate volunteers to nearly 40 countries.

The volunteers have used their expertise developed at the University to help local projects. Including enhancing agricultural yield, building and strengthening social enterprises, and improving health, the environment, sanitation, and access to water.

SAFAD gives students a chance to gain valuable experience by working in industry and with NGOs and charities across the world.

Lucy Whitley recently worked with GOAL Uganda to improve water sources and management. She said:

“One of my first tasks was developing and contributing to a strategic plan for a piped water scheme. I was extremely grateful that I could put my academic and theoretical learnings from Cranfield into practice on the ground.”

The first SAFAD project was in Iran. Here, volunteers shared soil conservation techniques and investigated agricultural irrigation systems in Iran. Current assignments span Haiti and Mexico, with volunteers working on clean water projects.

Professor Simon Pollard, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (School of Water, Energy and Environment), said:

“Being student-led is SAFAD’s unique strength and we are delighted to play our part by equipping SAFAD’s volunteers with the postgraduate training and practical research environment that allows their personal commitments to be realised.”

President of SAFAD, Daniel Foster Akrofi, who is studying for an MSc in Water and Sanitation for Development, said:

“This real-life experience has matured our graduates to the level where many find themselves as leaders in global organisations, continuing their desire to serve mankind.

“After 50 years, SAFAD’s uniqueness as a student-run charity persists, and the journey for many more graduates is yet to begin.”