Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Mahmooda Khaliq Pasha, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qiong Zhang, Ph.D.


Behavior Change, Microbial Contamination, Potable Drinking Water, Social Marketing, Sub-Saharan Africa, Sustainable Development Goals


One in four people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water, which means that two billion people globally lack access. In high-income countries, 0.02% of yearly deaths are attributed to unsafe water sources; however, an alarming 10.6% of deaths occur in Madagascar, for the same reason.

To achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all, a collaboration between public health and engineering is critical. Within the public health sector, social marketing is commonly utilized to address a problem by using commercial marketing principles to change behavior for the good of society. Prioritizing the needs of the user is where social marketing can help propel international development engineering forward.

Influencing behavior change for improved drinking water quality, thereby, achieving social good can be done using a household water treatment method, commonly referred to as point-of- use treatment. Time, cost, access, and societal influence are contributing factors to household POU water treatment in Madagascar and all act as barriers to the long-term adoption of water disinfection technologies.

A complex level of understanding of the target population in any study area is needed to understand the best way to identify and overcome barriers to household water treatment methods. To address identified gaps in the literature, this thesis research included an observational study using a cross-sectional qualitative survey to gain a deeper understanding of community members perceptions around water in Madagascar, translation of these findings to inform a potential social marketing intervention. A sample of 20 Malagasy women were interviewed on their current treatment practices, perceptions of water quality, facilitators and barriers associated with treating water, information channels, and whether they have a desire to change their current practices.

The desire for good health for themselves and their families as a primary motivator/facilitator, along with peer-to-peer influence and community perceptions (p<.05) was found. The connection between health and water should be highlighted in an intervention through recognizing overall health as a benefit to POU treatment. An education and training centered intervention may also result in the sustained use and adoption of an appropriate technology for POU treatment at the household level.