Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rebecca Zarger, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Ismael Hoare, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Whiteford, Ph.D.


Infrastructure, social right, water insecurity, wastewater management


Access to reliable water and sanitation are two important goals to improve livelihoods around the world. Providing access to improved and safe water resources that are equitable and appropriate to local needs is important to improve sustainability long-term. In addition, framing access to water and sanitation as basic human rights is often used as a rationale in developing new water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions in developing countries around the world. But not all countries consider access to safe water and sanitation as a human right. In the thesis, the politics of improving and investment in water access and sanitation provision are considered. The socio-cultural impacts of lack of sanitation in the lives of residents of Valparaiso de Goias, Brazil are explored. During a period of nine months, I also assessed perceptions of water scarcity and insecurity, and documented ideas of water reuse and sustainability in the area. I found that access to water and sanitation are not viewed as human rights, but as part of a discourse of citizenship and a social right. These services are viewed as a responsibility of the State to its residents because they are Brazilian and because it ensures improved livelihoods for the country’s residents. I also found that access to wastewater treatment infrastructure varied throughout the city, though treatment of wastewater remains very important to the study site community. In addition, the feasibility of implementing sustainable alternatives to address community needs is unlikely, given the infrastructural, financial, and space constraints. Political will and support have an important role in increasing and improving access to sanitation infrastructure. Perceptions of water scarcity varied between local residents and water service providers and other professionals interviewed. Though water is not perceived as scarce, Valparaiso and the Federal District of Brazil are located in a water stressed area, and are therefore more susceptible to water shortages and decreased water availability. Finally, community-based solutions to address water shortages should be included in the expansion of water reservoirs to collect rainwater, the usage of fines and bonuses to encourage appropriate water consumption.