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Title:Influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH)
Author(s):Uprety, Sital R
Director of Research:Nguyen, Thanh H
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nguyen, Thanh H
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shisler, Joanna L; Whittaker, Rachel J; Smith, Rebecca L; Sano, Daisuke
Department / Program:Civil & Environmental Eng
Discipline:Environ Engr in Civil Engr
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):WaSH, Sanitation
Water Quality
Extreme Natural Events
Abstract:The combination of natural disasters and inadequate infrastructure introduces unique challenges in providing safe drinking water in low-income countries. For example, Nepal faces several challenges in managing sporadic diarrheal outbreaks across the country, given its susceptibility to extreme natural events like earthquakes, floods, and landslides. To reduce the risk of diarrheal diseases, it is essential to understand the impact of natural disasters on water microbiome and human behavior. It is also vital to understand the interaction between water microbiome and human exposure to water pathogens. Furthermore, programs like WaSH intervention targeted to change the hygiene behavior of individuals, potentially change the water microbiome but the current knowledge is not adequate to validate it. Thus, the overarching goal of this research is to identify the behavioral adaptation in WaSH after a natural disaster like earthquake and investigate microbial changes in households and surroundings as a result of change in hygiene behavior. The approach used for this research included (1) focus group discussions and detailed interviews immediately after 2015 Nepal earthquake in high impact districts to evaluate the access to WaSH, (2) Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) to estimate the human health risk across different geographic location and exposure pathways for collected water samples, (3) investigate pathogen load/microbial profile between temporary settlement and recovered settlement two years after 2015 Nepal earthquake, (4) assess the effect of WaSH interventions on pathogen prevalence and levels. First, this research identified community resiliency after the 2015 Nepal earthquake but also highlighted the need for rapid construction of sanitation infrastructure and to consider gender-specific sanitation practices when coping with disasters. Second, investigating the risk associated with fecal indicator bacteria, E. coli, two years after the major earthquake in Nepal suggested that residents in Hilly and Terai regions of the country were at the highest risk. The risk comparison among exposure pathways indicated that the water used in households, including drinking water and water for washing, posed higher risks suggesting deteriorated sanitation practices in households. Third, this study identified the need for expedited recovery and reconstruction of individual households after the earthquake as enteric pathogens were detected in higher frequency and concentration in temporary settlements compared to reconstructed permanent settlements. Finally, this research also highlighted that WaSH interventions might not be effective in reducing bacterial pathogen loads from water and surroundings in households and may require transmission pathway-specific intervention. The knowledge gained from this project will be instrumental in making policy decisions because of the possible quantification of how a newly introduced adaptation, response, and relief may prevent the spread of waterborne pathogens under the stress caused by natural disasters, including earthquakes and induced interventions.
Issue Date:2020-07-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Sital R. Uprety
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-07
Date Deposited:2020-08

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