Policy, and

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


Water Institute Newsletter #55

Our newsletter offers up-to-date information about The Water Institute at UNC as well as relevant news briefs from around the globe. The latest issue highlights the EPA’s recent study of fracking’s effects on drinking water, registration and scholarship recipients for our upcoming Water and Health Conference, new publications and new faces at the Water Institute. To subscribe to our newsletter, please click here.


Water and Health Conference 2015

The Water Institute at UNC will host the Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy on October 26-30, 2015 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA.  The Conference considers drinking water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resources in both the developing and developed worlds with a strong public health emphasis. For details including registration and sponsorship, please visit the Water and Health Conference website.


Launch of WASH Performance Index

On May 8, we recorded a special webcast to launch our WASH Performance Index, a ranking of how well countries are progressing towards universal access to safe water and sanitation. Special guest speakers included Catarina de Albuquerque, vice chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA). To view the recorded webcast online, please visit


Water Microbiology Conference 2015

The Water Institute at UNC, in partnership with the Water Environment Federation, hosted the Water Microbiology Conference on May 18-22, 2015 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The Conference was a forum for researchers and practitioners focused on microbiology and public health. You can access the conference agenda, abstract document, and the participant list at the conference website.

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Featured Publications


Improving Household Water Programs

Household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) practices improve water quality and human health. However, only boiling is widely used. In the International Journal of Environmental Hygiene and Health, we assessed 47 factors identified by key informants as influencing the sustainability and scalability of HWTS and organized them into six categories: user guidance; resource availability; standards and regulations; program integration and collaboration; user preferences; and market strategies. By considering each category, government officials and practitioners can optimize program success.


Drinking Water Quality Governance

Strengthening drinking water quality governance could help increase access to safe water and improve human health. In Environmental Science and Policy, we identify similar water governance challenges in Brazil, Ecuador, and Malawi: inter-ministerial coordination and data sharing, monitoring and enforcement, and local capacity for water services management. A clustering model for case selection increases the generalizability of our results. Our conceptual framework can be used to map relationships between common challenges and identify policy levers to improve drinking water quality.


Improving Water Safety At Home

Monitoring drinking water focuses on water supply at the source but less is known on whether water quality differences at the source persist in water stored at home. In Environmental Health Perspectives, we performed a bivariate meta-analysis of 45 studies and found water quality deteriorated significantly between the source and household stored water (HSW). However, piped water is less likely to be contaminated at the source and in HSW than non-piped. A focus on upgrading water services to piped supplies may improve water quality for all, including those drinking stored water.


New Report on WASH in Health Facilities

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are essential to health service delivery and improving quality of care. In a new World Health Organization and UNICEF report, the Water Institute at UNC assessed the status of WASH in health care facilities in 54 low- and middle-income countries and found 38% lack an improved water source, 19% lack improved sanitation, and 35% lack soap for hand washing. Countries with a national plan for WASH in health care generally had higher coverage. Improving service levels requires health sector leadership, technical inputs from the WASH sector, and political commitment. 
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