A charity which helps improve the lives of people overseas, especially in the developing world, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. SAFAD is run by students at Cranfield University and since its inception in 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 to enhance agricultural yield, build and strengthen social enterprises, and improve health, the environment, sanitation, and access to water.

SAFAD brings a unique chance for Cranfield University students to gain valuable experience working in industry, alongside NGOs and charities across the world. The first project 50 years ago was a trip to Iran, where volunteers shared soil conservation techniques and investigated agricultural irrigation systems. Current assignments span Haiti and Mexico, with volunteers working on clean water projects.

Lucy Whitley recently volunteered in Uganda, working with GOAL Uganda to improve water sources and management.  Lucy says: “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.”

Professor Simon Pollard, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (School of Water, Energy and Environment), said: “Cranfield University is hugely proud of SAFAD and congratulates its management teams and volunteers, past and present, on delivering safe drinking water and sanitation to communities around the world.  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: “In 50 years, SAFAD has sent close to 500 Cranfield graduates and postgraduates to around 40 developing countries, to help alleviate poverty by working in local communities. 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.”