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UNC Researcher Earns Fulbright Scholar Grant to Nicaragua

Sarah Romano at a well with water committee members in Nicaragua

April 25, 2018

University of Northern Colorado Assistant Professor Sarah Romano has earned a Fulbright Scholar grant to further study water management in rural areas of Nicaragua, where over 2.5 million people reside and are particularly vulnerable in a country susceptible to extreme climate conditions.

Romano’s research will be the first to bridge “the study of rural water access and climate change from a governance perspective,” specifically how policies and decisions dictate delivery for residents and how such governance intersects with realities in areas experiencing high levels of food insecurity and poverty in addition to droughts and floods. 

Above: During a 2016 research visit to Nicaragua, Sarah Romano visits a water system storage tank in Muy Muy, Matagalpa, with members of the water committee who oversee management of the natural resource. Photo Courtesy of Sarah Romano.

 “… Serious challenges persist in regard to confronting water access issues in the context of climate change,” Romano stated in her project proposal. “These relate to ongoing contamination of drinking water sources, inadequate public financial resources to invest in water infrastructure, weak state capacity to implement policies, and limited knowledge of new laws on the part of state and social actors, amongst others.
“This research will contribute to greater documentation and understanding of environmental changes and pressures affecting rural communities with attention to how public policies and legal frameworks play — and can play — a role in addressing these.”
From her preliminary research, Romano has selected nine communities, primarily in the central highlands, and the water committees managing water access and distribution. She’ll visit and conduct her research during two summer trips, totaling 16-weeks, over a two-year period.  
The research will build on Romano’s previous Fulbright award in 2009 as a doctoral student when she conducted extensive field research on the topic in Nicaragua.

About Romano's Research
  • Project title: “Seeking Water Security at the Grassroots: Perceiving and Responding to Environmental Change in Nicaragua”
  • Faculty Researcher: Sarah Romano, assistant professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Funding Award: 2019-2020 Fulbright Scholar Grant

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