Feb 24, 2021

Ohio State University Leads Effort to Improve Water Security With The Navajo Nation

Researchers at The Ohio State University will help the Navajo Nation mitigate the lack of water and food security.

navajo nation

An effort led by researchers at The Ohio State University will help the Navajo Nation mitigate the lack of water and food security, according to Ohio State News. 

Navajo communities are facing new challenges due to COVID-19, including securing ample clean drinking water and proper sanitation. More than 40% of Navajo Nation households in Utah lack running water or adequate sanitation, reported Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez’s office.

This is a five-year project that intends to address the Navajo Nation’s water needs and provide agricultural and public health training. This includes upgrading existing boreholes using sustainable solar-power pumps, drilling new water wells and developing agricultural training, reported Ohio State News.

The Global Water Institute (GWI) is partnering with the Navajo Nation and an association of partners including: Assist International, Netafim, Suez WTS USA, Inc., WorldServe International and the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment

There are also long-term project goals, including: establishing more than 300 new sustainable water access points, including solar-powered water filtration, recycling and compost hubs, and internet hot spots. 

GWI will conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment as well, reported Ohio State News.

The Navajo Nation is a federally recognized tribe with reservation lands in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah is one of the largest in the country, with over 330,000 members. 175,000 reside on the reservation, according to Ohio State News.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for this project, but the truth is that COVID put a spotlight on the long-existing and intensifying lack of water and food security on the Navajo Nation,” said Tom Darrah, director of the GWI. “Today, nearly 10,000 Navajo families lack domestic piped water, requiring more than 40% of families to drive long distances and congregate to get clean water – action that can help spread a highly contagious virus and makes access to water incredibly expensive.”

A key point of the project is to train a cohort of Navajo students at Ohio State in each of the focus areas, according to Ohio State News.

GWI is working with faculty, staff and students from five colleges – Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Fisher College of Business – as well as the International Programs in Agriculture and OSU Extension’s Global Relations Committee.

Read related content about the Navajo Nation: