Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fenda Akiwumi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Heide Castaneda, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan Greenbaum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Graham Tobin, Ph.D.


water, development, Falifah, sustainability


Access to safe and clean water is a problem in many countries in the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa. The urgency of the was recognized by the United Nations through its 2008 Millennium Development Goals, which were recently replaced by the new Sustainable Development Goals. Lack or poor access to clean water not only creates conflicts and rifts among the people, but also makes them more susceptible to a wide assortment of water borne diseases.

The purpose of this dissertation is to complete a pilot study of ways of thinking and actions of a small group of people from Falifah, a village in The Gambia, who suffered from lack of access to safe and clean water. During my fieldwork in Falifah, I helped the community install a water filtration system in the village, and explored its value in improving the lives of the villagers. In particular, I conclude that village gained a sense of empowerment, for the water filtration system offered them the opportunity to become intimately involved in its implementation and its continued sustainability. This is especially important for women, given the long history of patriarchal control in this African village and many others like it.