Research,
Policy, and
Practice

We are problem solvers focused on the sustainable management of water for health and human development. We contribute to improving access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene for all.

News Briefs

Call for Abstracts: UNC Water & Health 2019

Submissions for abstracts and proposals are being accepted through March 29. Learn more…

The 2019 Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, organized by the Water Institute at UNC explores drinking water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resources in both the developing and developed worlds with a strong public health emphasis.

2019 Themes

Humanitarian WaSH
WaSH Financing and Markets
Climate Variability and Water Security
Evidence Based WaSH
WaSH and Environmental Health

WaSH Policy Research Digest #10 and Webinar

The Digest, published quarterly, summarizes recently published policy-relevant research, highlighting implications for WaSH policy, and synthesizes available literature, highlighting policy relevant implications and providing guidance to additional resources on the topic. This issue and the subsequent webinar addresses the impacts that seasonality has on rural water supply. Learn more…

UNC Water Microbiology Conference 2019

This year’s keynote speakers include Lance Price (Professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health), Krista Wigginton (Assistant Professor at University of Michigan), and Elisenda Balleste (Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Barcelona).

Immediately preceding this year’s conference is a full-day workshop titled Antimicrobial Resistance in a One Health World, featuring keynote speakers Antoine Andremont (Emeritus Professor at the Paris Diderot University Medical School) and Laura Marin (Head of the Secretariat of JPIAMR). Learn more

World Vision partnership will improve clean water access in 10 African nations

A six-year grant by World Vision to The Water Institute will create a partnership to improve water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in several low- and middle-income countries, with a long-term goal of helping to solve the global water and sanitation crisis by 2030.

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Featured Publications

Risk Management Frameworks for US Source Waters

Programs to manage risks to drinking water sources have expanded globally in the past 20 years, and could offer benefits to U.S. utilities. This participatory study compared candidate frameworks and practitioner interviews with evaluation criteria matched to implementation theory. Weighted integration using stakeholder survey responses and input from a decision-making workshop helped to rank relative applicability. The findings recommended hybridizing the American National Standards Institute/American Water Works Association (ANSI/AWWA G300) source water protection standard and World Health Organization Water Safety Plan guidance, as well as incorporating financial considerations into risk ranking and mitigation decisions.

Capacity Building and Training Approaches for WSPs

To prevent health risks to consumers, the World Health Organization has recommended Water Safety Plans (a holistic risk assessment and management approach) for all drinking water suppliers since 2004. A multidisciplinary team reviewed the status of capacity building and training approaches. Despite rapid adoption, they found that capacity has not kept pace with implementation needs. Many countries and regions still lack case examples, a legal framework, and training resources. To aid effective scale-up, the review proposes training approaches structured around educational theory, as well as robust monitoring methods and auditing programs.

Digging Pit Latrine
Photo by Vidya Venkataramanan

CLTS in Haiti

Plan International supports Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) implementation in two departments in Haiti. In this learning brief and underlying country report, we present the roles of local actors in Plan International’s program activities and highlights considerations for scalability, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Plan International Haiti can lead the effort to determine the viability of CLTS in Haiti by targeting the approach to smaller, more cohesive communities, helping to build the supply chain for sanitation hardware, involving a variety of local actors in the post-triggering stage, and by providing training for multipurpose community health agents to carry out CLTS implementation.

Risk perceptions determine use of WaSH. Photo by Samuel Godfrey

Risk Perceptions Associated with Health-Promoting Behaviours

Evaluations of WaSH interventions facilitate the improvement of global health and development policy making and implementation practice. When determining WaSH services, not only ‘hardware’ – technical and engineering aspects of WaSH – plays a role, but also ‘software’: sociological and psychological aspects, including health risk perceptions, (mis)beliefs, related behaviours, and the cultural context of WaSH. Our study among 2,650 households in rural Ethiopia showed that risk perceptions are important determinants of use of basic drinking water and sanitation services, thus motivating the application of positive WaSH-related and health-protective behaviours. This suggests that well-designed health risk communication strategies may be effective for engaging households in healthy WaSH behaviour.

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