Diné Household Water Survey

JHCIH Site: Fort Defiance, AZ (serving the Fort Defiance Agency – 27 Chapters)

Project Timeline: December 2021 – November 2023

The number of households on Navajo Nation that lack access to piped water or experience other water access challenges are inconsistently reported and estimates vary significantly. Although there is agreement across sectors that improving water access is critical, sufficient data is not available to understand the unique water access experiences of Diné people making it difficult to offer culturally-tailored solutions.

In December 2021, Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health (JHCIH) in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Water Institute (JHWI) initiated a two-year project to develop and pilot a comprehensive and culturally tailored household water needs assessment across the Fort Defiance Agency. Development of the assessment built upon prior household survey work and lessons learned, in coordination and collaboration with Navajo Nation leadership, community partners, and the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Water Access Coordination Group (WACG).

Project Goals:

  1. Develop and implement a comprehensive water survey with a representative sample of Navajo households in the Fort Defiance Agency that:
    • Captures an accurate estimate of the number of households without piped water and without consistent and adequate access to:
      1. Safe drinking water
      2. Water for cooking, washing, hygiene and sanitation, and
      3. Water for plants and livestock
  2. Measures multiple water use behaviors, water quality and quantity challenges, and capture preferences for water access solutions for Navajo households.
  • Map locations of participating households and incorporates geospatial analysis to create a visually representative product to disseminate findings and demonstrate where safe water solutions are needed.
  • Conduct water quality testing with a subset of households to understand if participants’ perceived water quality and water security are associated with the water quality parameters measured in their household water samples.

The lessons learned from this project in the Fort Defiance Agency will be used to scale data collection to capture the water access experiences and challenges of the rest of Navajo Nation. Scaled implementation will produce comprehensive household-water data for the entire Navajo Nation. The data will be widely disseminated to Navajo tribal government and stakeholders to guide future water infrastructure and policy decisions to help forge a path to safe, sustainable, and scalable household water access for all Navajo families.

For more information, contact Reese Cuddy: rcuddy6@jhu.edu