A Decision-Making Support Tool for Water and Sanitation Projects in Low-Resource Settings

EPA Grant Number: SU835351
Title: A Decision-Making Support Tool for Water and Sanitation Projects in Low-Resource Settings
Investigators: Bartram, Jamie , Foster, Benjamin
Current Investigators: Bartram, Jamie , Mann, Ben , Foster, Benjamin , Phipps, Chelsea , Deuink, Jordan , Downs, Kristen , Cronk, Ryan , Schwemlein, Stefanie
Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


Over 884 million people around the world lack access to clean water and 2.1 billion lack access to sanitation primarily in low-resource settings. The result is over 2 million preventable deaths each year. The international community’s response is water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives aimed at alleviating these pressing issues. However, despite tremendous investment, WASH projects and interventions have encountered startling high failure rates over the past several decades. Studies show that on average, projects fail at a rate of 35% in the developing world and in some settings failure rates can range as high as 80%. Research indicates many causes for these failure rates and one of the key causes is poor decision-making when selecting technologies and programs for implementation. Better technology choice is known to improve the sustainability of WASH projects. Further, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of projects helps to ensure that projects remain sustainable and continue to work over time. The main objectives of this project are to (1) compile best practices on the selection of appropriate technology for WASH projects, (2) develop a decision-making support tool (DST) that will help project implementers make informed and empowered selections of appropriate and sustainable WASH technologies for communities and (3) determine the DST’s effectiveness in terms of human usability, sustainability, and pollution prevention through the provision of water and sanitation treatment options with pilot testing.


The team will leverage local and global WASH expertise at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and collaborate with strategic partners who are affiliated with the Water Institute at UNC. The team will implement pilot studies in developing country settings to assess the effectiveness of the DST content and the user experience.

Expected Results:

The project is expected to facilitate the selection of WASH technologies and improve the learning experience about WASH system sustainability for the field practitioner through a DST thereby reducing pollution, increasing access to clean water and sanitation, and decreasing long term project failure rates.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

design for the environment, water purification technologies

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report