Dr Alexandra CASSIVI (Canada)

The lack of water of good quality and sufficient quantity has significant impacts on communities’ health and well-being. In her research, Alexandra intends to provide evidence-based knowledge to assess the impacts of water supply accessibility on water quantity and quality. Her findings could help to understand the effects associated to seasonal sources’ reliability on households’ behaviours in accessing a water supply.

PhD in Civil Engineering

Current position: Postdoctoral Researcher, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada

Research focus: access to drinking water, hygiene and environmental health, and geography

Access to drinking water is one of the most important global issues covered by SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). The lack of water of good quality and sufficient quantity has significant impacts on health and well-being of people. Besides health benefits, positive impacts of better access include improved dignity, privacy, and safety for women, time and energy savings, as well as environmental and economic benefits. Safe microbial drinking water is necessary to prevent occurrence of fecal-oral diseases and reduce their prevalence. Education along with good hygiene practices and adequate sanitation facilities, which are improved with sufficient quantity of water, are also key to ensure communities’ health and wellbeing.

Previous research has demonstrated that improving technology in water supply systems is not enough to improve access to a sufficient quantity of safe drinking water. In view of this, appropriate and inclusive interventions should be put forward to respect inter-generational equity and social cohesion principles of sustainability. Alexandra’s research aims to develop knowledge surrounding access to drinking water to help stakeholders and engineers to integrate the implication of fetching water to better forming the design process and strengthen their ability to consider the effect and outcomes of interventions.

Alexandra’s research is at the crossroad of humanities, health, and engineering. In her work, she intends to provide evidence-based knowledge to assess the impacts of water supply accessibility (i.e. ease of reaching water points) on water quantity (e.g., water storage, personal and domestic hygiene) and quality (e.g., post-collection contamination), and to understand the effects and variations associated to seasonal sources’ reliability on households’ behaviour in accessing water supply.

Alexandra expects that results from her research will optimise the design and evaluation of water supply-related interventions in low resources settings. Furthermore, she assumes that they will significantly increase understanding of the burden associated to fetching water and knowledge relevant to practice in the field (e.g., approaches, indicators, methods, measurements). A particular challenge, which her project also seeks to address, is the need to better refine monitoring indicators and the methodology supporting such data collection for both SDG monitoring but also for project implementers.

The jury considered Alexandra as the ideal Green Talent because of the combination of her impressive CV, her personal profile as an exceedingly active and dedicated person, and her highly relevant research topic. Alexandra’s interdisciplinary approach has been acknowledged by the jury as well.