Newsletter: November 19, 2015, Issue #58


Global WaSH News

Kevin Rudd named new Chair of Sanitation and Water for All partnership

On 5 November, The Honorable Kevin Rudd was appointed as the new chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), a global partnership aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking-water for all. Prior to joining SWA, Rudd had a distinguished political career in Australia, where he was Minister of Foreign Affairs and twice Prime Minister.

World Toilet Day: 19 November

One in three people worldwide still lack access to improved sanitation. On 19 November, we will join many others in recognizing World Toilet Day to raise awareness of the ongoing need for improved sanitation. For research on access to improved sanitation, see our work on Community-Led Total Sanitation, tracking progress in sanitation, and unsafe return of human excreta to the environment.

Conference News

Water and Health Conference

The Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, which took place 26-30 October, brought together practitioners, researchers, policy makers and entrepreneurs from 44 countries to focus on WaSH, health, and development. While the implementation of the WaSH targets in the Sustainable Development Goals was at the core of much conversation during the week, the conference covered diverse WaSH related topics and fostered an exchange of ideas and opportunities for collaboration. Verbal and poster presentations, video footage of plenary sessions, and photos are available on the conference site.

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 Microbiology Conference

The 2016 Water Microbiology Conference will be held 16-20 May at The Friday Center in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The conference provides a forum for researchers and practitioners focused on microbiology and public health issues to come together around the intersection of the two. The focus will be on water microbiology from watershed to human exposure, specifically focused on sources and reservoirs, exposure, methods, and management and treatment.

Water Institute News

New director of knowledge management and communications

We are pleased to welcome Kris Horvath as our Director of Knowledge Management and Communications. Kris comes to us with 11 years of knowledge management experience with a focus on linking people to information in public health projects in developing countries. He has a Master of Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts in literature from the University of Tennessee. Kris will develop a new strategy for knowledge management and communications for the Institute and lead our team of communications and knowledge management associates.

Routledge Handbook of Water and Health edited by Bartram and Baum

A new comprehensive handbook published by Routledge and edited by experts led by Water Institute Director Jamie Bartram and environmental sciences and engineering graduate student Rachel Baum is an authoritative source of information on global water and health. Offering a survey of global expertise to aid interdisciplinary teaching for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, it covers both developing and developed country concerns.

WaSH Policy Research Digest, Issue 2: WaSH in health care facilities

The second issue of the WaSH Policy Research Digest delves into WaSH in health care facilities. We developed the Digest to meet the evidence needs of in-country decision makers. It has two sections: the first explains the significance of recently published policy-relevant research or analysis, highlighting implications for WaSH policy. The second section focuses on a policy-relevant question with synthesis of available literature to reach specific conclusions, highlight policy-relevant implications, and provide guidance to additional resources on the topic. Subscribe to the Digest here.

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 theCareers at Carolina website.

New video offers preview of 5 lessons for sanitation policy and practice

A new video from Plan International and The Water Institute at UNC offers a preview of five lessons on sanitation policy and practice, based on findings from operational research on Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS). These lessons relate to CLTS planning at the national and local level, its place in national sanitation systems, and the importance of involving local actors. Government officials, teachers, and natural leaders can play important roles in improving access to basic sanitation to improve sustainability.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Williams, Ashley R., Robert E. S. Bain, Michael B. Fisher, Ryan Cronk, Emma R. Kelly, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Fecal Contamination and Inadequate Treatment of Packaged Water.” PLoS ONE 10(10): e0140899. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140899.

Packaged water (PW) provides an increasingly important source of water for consumption, however, recent studies raise concerns over their safety. Authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the microbial safety of PW. Results showed PW was less likely to contain fecal indicator bacteria compared to other water sources used for consumption. Policymakers and regulators should recognize the potential benefits of PW in providing safer water for consumption, especially for those who may not gain access to a reliable, safe water supply in the near future.

Naman, J., and J. MacDonald Gibson. 2015. Disparities in water and sewer services in North Carolina: An analysis of the decision-making process. American Journal of Public Health. Published ahead of print, August 13. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302731

Authors examined the factors that affect access to municipal water and sewer service for unincorporated communities relying on wells and septic tanks. Using a multisite case study design, they conducted interviews with informants from three unincorporated communities in Hoke, New Hanover, and Transylvania counties in North Carolina. Informants included elected officials, health officials, utility providers, and community members. Financing for water and sewer service emerged as the predominant factor that influenced decisions to extend these services, while improved health emerged as a minor influencing factor. Understanding the health costs and benefits of water and sewer extension and integrating these findings into the local decision-making process may help address disparities in access to municipal services.

Overbey, Katie N., Hatcher, Sarah M., and Jill R. Stewart. 2015. Water quality and antibiotic resistance at beaches of the Galápagos Islands. Frontiers in Environmental Health 3(64). doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2015.00064

The goal of this study was to characterize recreational water quality on one of the inhabited islands of the Galápagos (Isla San Cristóbal), where impacts of population growth on environmental quality are not well understood. Five beaches were sampled with and without discharge of human sewage. All study beaches sometimes exceeded international guidelines for recreational water quality. The results of this study demonstrate that sewage can contribute antibiotic resistant bacteria to marine waters and suggest that human impacts in the Galápagos Islands extend to the environmental resistome.

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