Policy, and

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News Briefs


Water Institute Newsletter #56

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 UN’s Millennium Development Goals report, a late-breaking call for abstracts 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

CLTS Triggering in a School, Photo by Jonny CrockerCLTS Triggering in a School
Photo by Jonny Crocker

CLTS in Cambodia

In an effort to reduce open defecation, Plan International supports community-led total sanitation (CLTS), a behavior change intervention, in various countries. In this learning brief and country report we present the roles of local actors in Plan International’s CLTS activities in Cambodia and highlight considerations for optimizing outcomes. Plan International and other sanitation practitioners can support government and local actors in developing a systematic approach to community selection, strengthening facilitation training, and standardizing monitoring and evaluation processes.

Photo by Dani BarringtonPhoto by Dani Barrington

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.

Photo: Flickr Creative CommonsPhoto: Flickr Creative Commons

WaSH in Schools in Nicaragua

Safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) improve the health and educational outcomes of school children. In the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, we assessed WaSH in Nicaraguan schools and found that 43% had access to water, 64% had access to sanitation and 19% had handwashing stations. Sanitation facilities were not in use at 28% of schools and 26% had non-functional water systems. Governments and partners can use this study to develop monitoring systems to track needs and prioritize WaSH investments in schools, especially for marginalized populations.


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.

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