Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ernest R. Blatchley III

Second Advisor

Srinavas Peeta

Committee Chair

Ernest R. Blatchley III

Committee Member 1

Srinavas Peeta

Committee Member 2

Linda S. Prokopy

Committee Member 3

Gary Burniske

Committee Member 4

Loring Nies


Water and food security remain the top development challenges of the decade, and perhaps the century. Since the Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000, billions of people have obtained access to more food, better nutrition, improved water, and basic sanitation facilities worldwide. This progress has been accomplished through the dedication of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, country-level governments, private corporations, and individuals at international, regional, and local scales. Truly tremendous strides have been made in water and food provisioning for humans worldwide. These past two decades have also seen the largest population growth on record, the highest rates of childhood mortality, and climate effects including drought and shifting rainfall that have caused widespread food shortages and death. In 2014, more than one thousand children under the age of 5 died per day of a preventable water related disease, millions of people went without access to adequate nutrition, and billions were without basic sanitation facilities. The current efforts to provide basic human needs including water and food provisioning are not sufficient to end the widespread water related deaths and chronic hunger issues. The research presented herein focuses on understanding previously implemented water and sanitation programs, as well as current research for development efforts relating to water and food security. Overall, this work begins with an analysis of limitations to previously implemented projects, then moves to an analysis of a subset of organizations that are implementing water and food development interventions, and finally concludes with a regional example of how future climate change may alter the management and implementation of water and food programs. Specifically, this work addresses: (1) the quality of improved drinking water sources in western Kenya and southern Vietnam; (2) the status of sanitation facilities in western Kenya and southern Vietnam; (3) stakeholder perceptions and research needs of water and food development programs in the Mekong Basin; (4) how project selection tools can leverage social networks; and (5) how climate change knowledge and perceptions could influence management decisions on a regional scale. These findings suggest that careful attention should be paid to how organizations define and monitor development interventions. Additionally, this work articulates the value of stakeholder acceptability and the opportunity of leveraging social networks to select and prioritize projects that are more likely to succeed in the long term. The evidence derived from the regional study on climate change perceptions, suggests that further research is needed in water and agriculture management strategies for long term resilience. These research needs are identified and described.