Water for Life: Community Education for Water Conservation and Rainwater Harvesting in the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands

September 15th, 2012 - August 31st, 2017 | PROJECT

Water for Life (WfL) is a full scale development youth and community based program; centered on freshwater literacy, water conservation and rainwater harvesting led by the Pacific Resources for Education Learning (PREL) in Hawaii. The goals of the project are to: (a) promote an understanding of water conservation and stewardship in areas lacking adequate quality water supplies and (b) build local capacity among rural communities to develop and employ site specific freshwater harvesting strategies proven to improve water quality. Rural communities within four Pacific Island entities in the U.S. affiliated Freely Associated States (FAS) will participate in WfL activities. PREL is collaborating with a host of organizations (such as the Federated States of Micronesia National Department of Education, Marshall Islands Conservation Society, and the Micronesian Conservation Trust, etc.) to develop and implement all phases of the initiative. This work is already improving the quality of life for hundreds of people in the FAS through water conversation education and improved water quality in local areas. Working closely with site-embedded PREL staff, Core Teams at each site - consisting of 4-6 local leaders from environmental agencies, water/sanitation systems, and education institutions - participated in a 5-day professional learning immersion in May, 2013, to buld capacities to develop and facilitate water conservation and catchment activities at the four target sites in the FAS. The Core Team members at each site now are recruiting and collaborating with local community members to implement site-specific projects that both educate and provide enhanced access to high quality drinking water. Both adults and youth are now engaging in a spectrum of proejcts that address loca needs and priorities through site-specific service learning activities. The site-specific focus in each locale, determined by the local Core Team, is distinct. In Palau, the Core Team has built broader community awareness of water conservation issues, raised the issue of water security in national conversations, engaged remote communities in improving natural rainwater drainage collection systems, and produced youth-oriented educational materials focused on local sites. In Yap, the Core Team members have collaborated with public utilities to install first-flush diverters into community rainwater catchment systems on Yap proper, and now are installing these devices in rainwater catchment systems on Yap's neighbor islands. In Chuuk, groundwater springs in remote communities are being upgraded for improved storage capacity, protection against contamination, and better public access. In Majuro (RMI), public school rainwater catchment systems are being repaired, repainted, cleaned, and upgraded so that schools can and will provide adequate drinking water to students (and to broader segments of the community during droughts). Broad segments of communities, including school classes and clubs, church and civic groups, etc. are becoming increasingly involved in building better water security and resilience for their communities, in preparation for a predicted drought, predicted to hit in the winter of 2014-2015, brought on by an El Nino event now edevelopig in the eastern Pacific. Water for Life has produced a range of locally relevant educational materials, including books, pamphlets, flyers, etc., some in English and others in local languages. Posters and billboards are being produced to enhance and maintain public awareness. Infrastructure projects are enabling better collection of more, higher quality water for drinking. A full-scale water handbook is under development, and this will serve as a basis for a self-contained water 'course' that will be offered through local community colleges. The experiences of project participants are being captured, analyzed, and reported in front-end, formative, and sumative evaluations conducted by David Heil & Associates. Thousands of individuals, comprising large segments of the participating countries' populations, will be directly impacted by the project. The results will be applicable to other remote and rural communities outside of the Pacific distressed by poor water quality and ineffective freshwater harvesting systems.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Poster: Water for Life
Water for Life Final Evaluation Report

Team Members

Ethan Allen, Principal Investigator, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning
Danko Taborosi, Co-Principal Investigator, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1224185
Funding Amount: 524747


Access and Inclusion: Ethnic | Racial | Pacific Islander Communities | Rural
Audience: Adults | Educators | Teachers | Families | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs