Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


David W Watkins


The lack of access to sufficient water and sanitation facilities is one of the largest hindrances towards the sustainable development of the poorest 2.2 billion people in the world. Rural Uganda is one of the areas where such inaccessibility is seriously hampering their efforts at development. Many rural Ugandans must travel several kilometers to fetch adequate water and many still do not have adequate sanitation facilities. Such poor access to clean water forces Ugandans to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy collecting water - time and energy that could be used for more useful endeavors. Furthermore, the difficulty in getting water means that people use less water than they need to for optimal health and well-being. Access to other sanitation facilities can also have a large impact, particularly on the health of young children and the elderly whose immune systems are less than optimal. Hand-washing, presence of a sanitary latrine, general household cleanliness, maintenance of the safe water chain and the households’ knowledge about and adherence to sound sanitation practices may be as important as access to clean water sources.

This report investigates these problems using the results from two different studies. It first looks into how access to water affects peoples’ use of it. In particular it investigates how much water households use as a function of perceived effort to fetch it. Operationally, this was accomplished by surveying nearly 1,500 residents in three different districts around Uganda about their water usage and the time and distance they must travel to fetch it. The study found that there is no statistically significant correlation between a family’s water usage and the perceived effort they must put forth to have to fetch it. On average, people use around 15 liters per person per day. Rural Ugandan residents apparently require a certain amount of water and will travel as far or as long as necessary to collect it.

Secondly, a study entitled “What Works Best in Diarrheal Disease Prevention?” was carried out to study the effectiveness of five different water and sanitation facilities in reducing diarrheal disease incidences amongst children under five. It did this by surveying five different communities before and after the implementation of improvements to find changes in diarrheal disease incidences amongst children under five years of age. It found that household water treatment devices provide the best means of preventing diarrheal diseases. This is likely because water often becomes contaminated before it is consumed even if it was collected from a protected source.