Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Stephen Siebert

Commitee Members

Ron Wakimoto , Vicki Watson


water quality monitoring, nicaragua, watershed education


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Environmental Public Health | Public Health


Water quality and water scarcity have dominated international health and environmental management initiatives for decades because of the devastating impacts poor water quality has on child mortality and general public well-being, particularly in developing countries. Non-profit organizations, private utilities, and government agencies have invested significant financial resources and time to increase access to improved water sources in low-income countries. However, the sustainability of water improvement project benefits have been disappointing due to a lack of community and household capacity to operate and maintain introduced water systems. This paper evaluates a community/household based water improvement project introduced by a small non-governmental organization, Proyecto Nica Agua, in Los Robles, Nicaragua. The project sought to build local community capacity to develop and sustain a water improvement project based on individual household use of ceramic water filters, hygiene and sanitation education, community service projects and watershed education.

Household health surveys, informal interviews, water quality sampling, and on-site observations were used to evaluate the effectiveness and potential sustainability of the introduced water system. The introduction of ceramic water filters resulted in a 90% reduction in reported cases of diarrhea since the beginning of the project 2011. This study found that reported cases of water-related illnesses (i.e., diarrhea, parasites and kidney infections) were eliminated after two years of filter use (n=20 households). In a survey of village residents, 78% of respondents (n=201 households) indicated a willingness to maintain their water filters, while 82% reported they would participate in another community service project as a means to maintain or replace water filters. Escherichia coli was present in 90% of water filter samples, however the accuracy of the tests cannot be confirmed. In informal interviews 74% reported not knowing the origin of contamination in the water supply. The results of this study were used to develop a watershed education curriculum to provide information about the effects of human activities on both surface and groundwater supplies. The curriculum is currently being used in Los Robles and in other regions of Nicaragua where Proyecto Nica Agua has extended their project.



© Copyright 2016 Erinkate E. Springer