Latest information on COVID-19
Support teaching, research, and patient care.
Jennifer (“Jenna”) Davis is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, both of Stanford University. She also heads the Stanford Program on Water, Health & Development. Professor Davis’ research and teaching is focused at the nexus of water, economic development and public health, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. She has conducted field research in more than 20 countries, including most recently Zambia, Bangladesh, and Uganda.
Little work has been done to explore intermediate options between promoting household point-of-use (POU) water treatment technologies (treating drinking water in the home) and expensive city-wide networked water treatment (piped water to individual households). The project addresses this technology gap by developing and evaluating low-cost, in-line chlorination systems that can reduce contamination of drinking water in low-income areas of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Steve Luby at the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR'B) in Dhaka.Current definitions of “access to improved water supply” are based on a technological standard, one that does not take into account the microbiological quality of water accessed by households. Thus, whereas some 800 million people are considered to be lacking access to “improved” water supplies, the number who lack access to safe water is likely to be much higher. The field of POU water treatment has emerged from the understanding that centralized water supply is prohibitively expensive for low-income country governments to build in the near future. At the same time, following several decades of implementation, evidence suggests that uptake and consistent use of POU products among households is limited. This project seeks to explore low-cost chlorinatin systems as an alternative.
This project is being carried out in collaboration with the NGOs World Vision and Sesame Workshop. The two organizations have developed a 12-week play-based curriculum targeting 6- to 9-year-old students in primary schools of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The program, which is called WASH Up!, focuses on healthy behaviors related to water management, sanitation and hygiene practices. It is paired with water supply and sanitation infrastructure investments made by World Vision in the school setting. Our team is generating evidence regarding the impacts of these interventions on knowledge and behaviors of students, their teachers, and their caregivers. We are also experimentally testing strategies to increase the transmission of school-acquired knowledge to the household environment through students acting as 'agents of change.'
Between 1/4 and 1/3 of rural water supply infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa is out of operation at any given time. Unreliable water infrastructure results in higher time costs of water supply and the use of unsafe sources. Our team is collaborating with the non-profit organization ILF who has developed a preventative maintenance service for rural water infrastructure. Using a cluster randomized trial design we will assess effective demand for this service at the community level. We will then follow approximately communities that have opted into the service, along with matched communities who are not receiving it, to evaluate the impacts of professionalized maintenance on the time and money cost of supply, as well as several other well-being related outcomes.
Water treatment in low-income settings
icddr'b, Medentech, MSR Global, PATH
low-income urban households
Professor Davis’ research and teaching deals broadly with the roles that water plays in advancing public health and economic development, with particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. With a background in public health, infrastructure planning, and environmental science & engineering, Davis works at the interface of engineered infrastructure systems and their users. Her group conducts applied research that utilizes theory and analytical methods from public and environmental health, engineering, microeconomics, and planning. Research efforts include the development and testing of strategies to stimulate investment in, and enhance long-term sustainability of, water, sanitation, and hygiene from the household to the global level. The group has also worked on developing technologies that address persistent gaps in service to vulnerable populations. A third area of research focuses on quantifying the health and economic impacts of service improvements, and the conditions under which such benefits are maximized. Davis has conducted field research in more than 20 countries, most recently including Zambia, Bangladesh, and Kenya.