Newsletter: December 22, 2015, Issue #59


Global WaSH News

Right to sanitation a distinct human right

On 17 December, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus vote to recognize the human right to sanitation as a distinct right. This is notably the first time the global body has foregrounded sanitation as an unequivocal right, affirming that “everyone, without discrimination, [should] have physical and affordable access to sanitation.” Two-and-a-half billion people still lack access to sanitation with one billion practicing open defecation. Our current research on sanitation including infrastructure vulnerability to climate change, sustainable marketplaces, and Community-Led Total Sanitation, among others, can be found here.

Water rises to the top in Paris climate talks

Water took a central role at the United Nation’s Paris Climate Summit, partly as a result of coordination among water advocacy groups to highlight the issue. Sessions on December 2, when the official theme was “Resilience,” focused on water, leading to agreements such as the “Paris Pact” to incorporate climate adaptation into local water plans with funding for technical assistance and project financing. Other agreements call for the sharing of information and best practices, and require that national climate plans include investments in water risk measurement and reporting.

Conference News

Water Microbiology Conference

We are now accepting abstracts and side event proposals for the Water Microbiology Conference to be held May 17-19, 2016 at The Friday Center in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The focus of the upcoming Conference will be on water microbiology from watershed to human exposure, including current concerns in recreational waters, shellfish harvesting waters, emerging technologies, and quantitative tools. The Conference will offer participants a variety of opportunities to exchange ideas, debate challenging topics, and explore potential collaborations. This year’s conference themes are: Sources and Reservoirs, Exposure, Methods, and Management and Treatment. Detailed examples of topics under each theme are available on the Conference website. In addition to poster and verbal presentations and side events, the Conference schedule will include a Career Fair in partnership with NSF International for those in water microbiology and related work.

Be sure to save the date for the 2016 Conference, which will be held 10-14 October at The Friday Center in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. A call for abstracts and side event proposals will be made in early 2016.

Water and Health Conference

Save the date for the next annual Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy: October 10-14, 2016, at The Friday Center in Chapel Hill. Stay tuned to the Conference website for our call for abstracts in January. You can also find materials from the 2015 gathering on the website, including presentations for download, poster listings, a photo gallery, the complete abstract book, and a list of participants.

Water Institute News

Updates: Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Niger, Uganda, and Haiti

Detailed updates about our sanitation work with Plan International USA in Niger, Uganda, and Haiti can be found on our CLTS page, with the publication of new Learning Briefs and Country Reports.

Staff updates at The Water Institute at UNC

We extend our best wishes to two members of our senior staff who will move on to new opportunities this season. Marissa Streyle, Director of Networking and Partnerships, will head to Portland, Oregon after four years with The Water Institute. Ryan Rowe worked in Knowledge Management for five years after his graduate studies with The Water Institute, and will live in Haiti and Montreal, Canada, when he is not traveling the world.

Water Institute literature review to inform WHO Domestic Water Report updates

The Water Institute is conducting three literature reviews on (i) water quantity and access, (ii) water quantity and hygiene, and (iii) the location of water supplies and health outcomes. The results will contribute to an update to the World Health Organization’s Domestic Water Quantity, Service Level, and Health report. The review results and update will serve to inform practitioners, policy makers, and researchers as the sector transitions to the era of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Distance Learning: Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for WaSH

Our new WaSH Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Module series will offer students dynamic modules on planning, evaluation design, sampling, data analysis, household and facilities surveys, and qualitative research methods that will improve the value and sustainability of their projects. A new format and better flexibility will provide a more engaging learning experience. The new MEL module series begins January 29.

Recruiting post-doctoral researcher in sanitation

We are accepting applications for a post-doctoral researcher in sanitation. Research will focus on fecal waste accounting to estimate the release of untreated waste to the environment from sanitation technologies at various steps of the fecal waste management chain. Research in this area seeks to help prioritize the risks from leakages and their control. To apply, visit the Careers at Carolina website.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Baum, Rachel, Urooj Amjad, Jeanne Luh, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. “An Examination of the Potential Added Value of Water Safety Plans to the United States National Drinking Water Legislation.” International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2014.12.004.

Water Safety Plans (WSPs) are a preventive approach for delivering safe drinking water and health benefits, based on systematic evidence from Iceland. To date, however, United States (US) authorities have not widely adopted WSPs. In the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, we examine the added value of WSPs in comparison with US drinking water regulations. While fairly well-aligned, gaps exist in team formation and training, risk management, and management procedures and plans. Authors conclude that WSP implementation by US authorities could close the gaps and improve water quality and human health.

Shields, Katherine F., Robert E.S. Bain, Ryan Cronk, Jim A. Wright, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. “Association of Supply Type with Fecal Contamination of Source Water and Household Stored Drinking Water in Developing Countries: A Bivariate Meta-analysis.” Environmental Health Perspectives 218(8): 677-685. doi:10.1289/ehp.1409002.

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, authors performed a bivariate meta-analysis of 45 studies and found water quality deteriorated significantly between the source and household stored water (HSW). Piped water, however, 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.

If you are interested in donating to The Water Institute, please visit our “make a gift” page.