Policy, and

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

News Briefs

Water Conference

Our 2014 Water and Health Conference was a great success! 530 participants from 31 countries came together October 13-17 to consider drinking water supply, sanitation, and hygiene, and water resources in both the developing and developed worlds. Archives and products from this year’s conference are available at

News to Your Inbox

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 launch of a handbook on human rights to water and sanitation and our recruitment of a climate change researcher. To subscribe to our bimonthly newsletter, please click here.

Technology Contest

The Future Technologies for Water Competition, sponsored by the Takata Corporation, sought to identify breakthrough technologies for safe water with wide-scale applicability. We received over 70 entries from 27 countries. This year’s winner, Team Espresso (pictured above), received $15,000. The runner-up, Team Planktos, was awarded $5,000.

Water Safety Course

The Water Institute is offering a distance learning course on Water Safety Planning, the process of identifying and addressing threats to the acceptability and safety of water supplies. The course is designed for those with management, engineering or operational responsibilities in the water supply industry. For more information, email

Recent Publications

Sustainability Check

Poor sustainability of rural water and sanitation, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, has increased the need for post-construction monitoring and support. To address this issue, the Sustainability Check (SC) was developed as part of the One Million Initiative in Mozambique as an annual audit tool to monitor rural water and sanitation from 2008-2012 to facilitate learning and program changes.‬ Water Institute researchers collaborated with UNICEF Mozambique to describe the SC’s methods, evolution and annual results in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development‬.

Global Monitoring

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) tracks international drinking water and sanitation coverage by analyzing data from household surveys and national censuses. This article, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, describes and critically reviews the JMP method in detail for the first time. Findings include limitations of the current JMP method and future monitoring needs, including addressing water quality, equity, and the use of multiple drinking water and sanitation facilities within and outside of the home.

Rural vs. Urban Areas

Disparities in access to drinking water between rural and urban areas are compounded by disparities in aspects of water service such as safety and time to collect water. There have been calls for setting higher standards in urban areas which would exacerbate the already extreme rural disadvantage. In Science of the Total Environment, we suggest the focus should be kept on achieving universal access to safe water (primarily in rural areas) while monitoring progress towards higher service levels, including greater water safety (both in rural and urban areas and across economic strata).

Over 1 Billion at Risk

Based on a recent PLOS Medicine systematic review of over 300 studies of fecal indicator bacteria, global and regional estimates were derived. We estimate that 1.1 billion people drink water from sources that are of at least “moderate” risk (> 10 Escherichia coli per 100 ml). Earlier global burden of disease estimates may have substantially understated the disease burden associated with inadequate water services. The results are reported in a series on the global burden of diarrhoeal disease due to water, sanitation and hygiene and published in Tropical Medicine and International Health.

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