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 Microbiology Conference

The Water Institute at UNC, in partnership with the Water Environment Federation, is hosting the Water Microbiology Conference on May 18-22, 2015 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The Conference will create a forum for researchers and practitioners focused on microbiology and public health. You can view information about this year’s themes and registration here.

Calling for a New Global Standard

A new study conducted by The Water Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine calls for a new global standard for improvements in household drinking water and sanitation access. Published in Plos One, the study found that using different benchmarks for water and sanitation masked deficits in household water access.

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 our upcoming conferences and a recent UN-Water analytical brief highlighting wastewater management as a critical step in improving global water quality and public health. To subscribe to our newsletter, please click here.

WHO Report Released

The World Health Organization released a report on the global burden of diarrhea showing the number of deaths of children under five years old decreased from 1.5 million in 1990 to 622,000 in 2012. Achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene is an essential first step to further progress. The findings are based, in part, on research undertaken by the WHO, The Water Institute at UNC, and 13 other institutions.

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Featured Publications

Equity Index

Monitoring inequality in water and sanitation is essential as the human right is now officially recognized. The preferred metric would focus on the rate of change, but this has not yet been done. We developed an equity index, published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, to measure progressive realization for the human right and fairly compare countries’ progress towards universal access by normalizing rates of change against a benchmark. Using this index, we demonstrate that progressive realization can be achieved regardless of state economic status or related factors.

Service Indicators

Calls for improved international water service monitoring systems advocate the use of multiple indicators, yet few systems have been tested or compared. In the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, we review the benefits and challenges of commonly recommended water service indicators, including service type, safety, quantity, accessibility, equity, affordability and reliability. We find evidence on the importance of each and substantive interdependencies among them, highlighting the value in an index of indicators critical to health and well-being that tracks the quality of service.

Safe Water in Iceland

The national framework for safe drinking water in Iceland sets out legislated roles and responsibilities for key actors. In the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, we analyze implementation performance and conclude the main components are in place, including water quality surveillance and mandatory water safety plans. However, enforcement of legal requirements and guidance by central authorities need improvement. Lessons are transferable to other European nations and provide insight into the development of national frameworks for water safety.

Low-Cost Maintenance

Small, rural, piped water supply systems are often unable to provide reliable, safe, and sustainable services. Circuit Rider (CR) post-construction support (PCS) addresses these challenges through technical, financial, and operational assistance. This article, in The Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, is the first rigorous study of the CRPCS model. In a case-control study in El Salvador, CRPCS communities had better water quality and sustainability outcomes. CRPCS offers practitioners a low-cost approach (< $1/household/year) for improving water services.

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