In the Community - Clean Water and Sanitation

Our goal is to inspire the next generation and engage the greater South Florida community in the solutions-based work at FIU that is helping to create a more sustainable future. Through education and outreach programs, we are working with communities to promote sustainable use of water and to protect the Florida Everglades and the Biscayne Aquifer locally and precious water resources throughout the world.

FIU working with local community

Working in Local Communities

Researchers in FIU’s Institute of Environment are leading the science behind one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects on the planet — the Florida Everglades, an iconic and imperiled ecosystem that provides drinking water for 8 million people and supports Florida’s thriving economy. As part of our extensive efforts on behalf of the Everglades, our scientists lead an Outreach Team that provides free community opportunities to expand environmental literacy and participate in current science initiatives. This team also collaborates with the local arts community to engage new audiences in conversations about protecting the Everglades. And they offer research experiences for local school teachers and high school students. In addition, FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education Outreach Team provides a variety of programming to engage the local community in our efforts.

Elizabeth Anderson working with the global community

Global Community Water Management

FIU’s international water programs in the Institute of Environment have delivered clean water, sanitation and hygiene solutions to places throughout the world including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caucasus through initiatives supported by USAID. Our scientists provide water management services to people and ecosystems through infrastructure improvements, education, integrated water management policies and research. The institute also holds the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security.

FIU panel

Working with Local, National and Global Governments

FIU’s Institute of Environment holds the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security, which is charged with bringing together research and education to address regional, national and global water security issues. Among our many efforts on behalf of this program, we have convened a summit on cybersecurity for water security and maintain an ongoing program focused on the Nile River, both of which involve government agencies.

FIU’s international water programs in the Institute of Environment have delivered clean water, sanitation and hygiene solutions to places throughout the world including Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caucasus through initiatives supported by USAID. All of these efforts require collaborative partnerships with local governments. 

As part of our work in the Florida Everglades, we are the host institution for the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research program for the Florida Coastal Everglades. We work hand-in-hand with a variety of local, state and national government agencies including the General Council of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, South Florida Water Management District, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. FIU scientists are also members of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which was established by the United States Congress and includes city and county governments in South Florida along with several state and federal agencies. 

FIU and our scientists are members of the Florida Climate Institute, Global Council for Science and the Environment, the Florida Blue-Green Algae Task Force and many other government-engaged collaborations. 

Community Engagmenet and Support

FIU has delivered clean water, sanitation and hygiene solutions to communities throughout the world. These efforts have focused on low-cost solutions, community engagement and government collaborations. 

  • Tanzania

    In the Wami Ruvu basin, FIU worked with local governments and NGOs to maximize the supply of clean safe water for basic needs while also creating opportunities for business ventures among local villagers so clean water could be a financial benefit in addition to a necessity. Micro-lending at the village level encouraged private investment. This effort helped foster 27 new village micro-savings and micro-financing programs that serve more than 25,000 people in the area. More than 70 water access points have been created serving some 16,000 people, and more than 20,000 people have completed sanitation and hygiene education.

  • Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Mozambique

    Sub-Saharan African countries have large, well-experienced regional, national and international organizations in the water delivery, sanitation and hygiene field, yet local organizations lack the necessary technical capacity to solve challenges in these areas. FIU worked with local organizations to close the knowledge gap through technical training and education to help them develop sustainable, state-of-the art, locally tailored approaches to water delivery, sanitation and hygiene.

  • Morocco

    An FIU team traveled to the El-Haouz region of Morocco to increase access to drinking water, improve hygiene practices and encourage collaboration among local authorities to govern water. In the agricultural Doukkala Province, FIU worked with small farmers to improve their water-use practices which led to enhanced livelihoods and improved sustainability. The project brought clean water to hundreds of children in local schools, provided more than 1,000 people with improved access to sustainable water and educated 3,000 people on best hygiene practices.

  • Ghana, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso

    This FIU-led and USAID-supported project increased access to safe water and sanitation as well as improved hygiene in Ghana, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Our team introduced water and sanitation technology and promoted better hygiene at the community level through education. We used experiences from this project to develop models that could be scaled to other regions in Africa.

  • Rwanda

    FIU’s Rwanda Integrated Water Security Program was designed to improve the sustainable management of water quantity and quality to positively impact human health, food security, and resiliency to climate change for vulnerable populations in targeted catchments in Rwanda. The project included low-cost and innovative technologies for water supply, sanitation and agriculture in Rwanda, along with multiple-use water services, sanitation marketing and product/supply chain development. Simultaneously, program managers worked with local communities to educate and improve individual hygiene behaviors.

  • India

    FIU worked with local community partners along the Wakal River basin to support equitable access to and sustainable use of water resources. This included facilitating communication and collaboration among stakeholders, while building capacity of basin residents and local governments in water resources management. To improve rainwater harvesting methods, our scientists studied locations of harvesting structures to measure rates of groundwater recharge. We coordinated training sessions for local governments (known as Panchayats) and state-level representatives on topics in integrated water resources management to provide leaders with the tools to make more informed decisions about water management in the Wakal River basin.

  • Ecuador and Peru

    The Pastaza River basin begins in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and ends at the Marañon River in Peru, which carries its waters into the Amazon. The lives of thousands of people are closely tied to the Pastaza River’s resources. A team led by FIU established the regular collection of water data to be used by local authorities and formed local committees to participate in effective water management. The project also developed a fisheries management plan, advanced sound petroleum exploration management and promoted collaboration among native communities on both sides of the border.

  • Georgia

    In this South Caucasus region of Europe, most of the population has access to potable water. The biggest issues here are waste management and conservation. Many surface waters are severely polluted, forests are illegally logged and grasslands are overgrazed. Inappropriate irrigation and agricultural practices have degraded large areas of arable land through erosion and salinization of soils. FIU worked with local officials to protect the water supply and promote the benefits of preserving the country’s abundant natural resources.

  • Kenya

    Through an international collaborative effort, our scientists are working to save Kenya’s Mountain Bongo Antelope, the largest and most endangered antelope. Through an innovative project that is repatriating captive stock to a Kenyan preserve, our efforts are helping to protect Mt. Kenya and with it, the high-mountain ecosystem that supplies 80 percent of Kenya’s people with clean, fresh water.Through an international collaborative effort, our scientists are working to save Kenya’s Mountain Bongo Antelope, the largest and most endangered antelope. Through an innovative project that is repatriating captive stock to a Kenyan preserve, our efforts are helping to protect Mt. Kenya and with it, the high-mountain ecosystem that supplies 80 percent of Kenya’s people with clean, fresh water.

  • South Florida

    FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education connects lifelong learners with real university research through initiatives led by its Education Outreach Team. We provide a range of experiences, from at-home activities to community events, summer camps and much more. We maintain collaborative partnerships with corporations and community organizations and offer volunteer service opportunities all in support of our environment. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of explorers who will be making discoveries and finding solutions to create a more sustainable future.

  • Biscayne Bay

    In August 2020, Biscayne Bay went into respiratory distress. High water temperatures coupled with significant excess nutrient pollution nearly killed our bay. Hundreds of fish and marine life dead — an ecosystem’s cry for help. One of FIU’s two main campuses is located along Biscayne Bay and for decades, FIU has led research on its health. When dead fish started popping up, FIU research teams responded immediately, deploying special autonomous surface vessels and buoys to measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll to better understand what was happening and what was needed to stop it. They worked with local officials to help re-oxygenate the bay. Their work continues as the bay is continuing to show signs of an ecosystem in trouble. More than just science, our work is focused on communicating with local communities to educate on the role they play in the health of the bay as well as the need for improved protections at the local and state levels. Recently, the university proposed a new initiative for a comprehensive monitoring network for the bay to identify potential problems before they become crises. The researchers have been actively pursuing funding opportunities to advance this effort. Biscayne Bay needs saving. FIU has the expertise and the will to give a lifeline to this tropical lagoon that is ecologically and economically essential to Miami.

  • Florida Coastal Everglades

    Researchers in FIU’s Institute of Environment are leading the science behind one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects on the planet — the Florida Everglades, an iconic and imperiled ecosystem. As part of our extensive efforts on behalf of the Everglades, our scientists lead an Outreach Team that provides free community opportunities to expand environmental literacy and participate in current science initiatives. This team also collaborates with the local arts community to engage new audiences in conversations about protecting the Everglades. And they also offer research experiences for local school teachers and high school students.

  • Miami-Dade County

    FIU has received a grant from Miami-Dade County for Environmental Education to support an accelerated education initiative and promote stewardship among local residents and businesses. Our team in the Institute of Environment works directly with communities, linking top scientists, educators, students and municipal leaders to identify and implement solutions-oriented opportunities. We have included stipends for neighborhood ambassadors to extend our reach into the residential and business community even further and have engaged FIU’s Global Learning for Global Citizenship program to maximize new outlets for reaching students. Our trainings approach incorporates science and technology into experiential fun activities to the skills needed to adapt and persevere through the challenges of climate change in our region.
    Our activities focus on:

    • general environment
    • urban forestry 
    • water pollution 
    • water conservation and drinking water quality 
    • solid waste management