Newsletter: March 31, 2015, Issue #52



Global WaSH News

Report: Alarming lack of WaSH in health care facilities

A report released on March 17 by WHO and UNICEF reveals an alarming lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries. The report was authored by Ryan Cronk, a PhD student in environmental sciences and engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Jamie Bartram, director of The Water Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill. Of over 66,000 facilities evaluated, 38 percent lack an improved water source, 19 percent lack improved sanitation, and 35% lack soap for hand washing. This compromises health care workers’ ability to provide basic, routine services, such as child delivery. Improving service levels requires health sector leadership, inputs from the WaSH sector, and political commitment.

Connecting World Water Day and International Women’s Day

The world celebrates World Water Day and International Women’s Day each year in March. These events are inextricably linked – particularly this year. The UN-Water 2015 World Water Day theme was Water and Sustainable Development, reminding us that gender inequality manifests in time spent collecting water, as women in developing nations spend on average 25 percent of their day collecting water for their families. UN-Water also highlights the potential for progress through water and sanitation investments: every dollar invested brings economic gains between US$5 and US$28.

Record drought in Brazil offers lessons for other countries

Brazil’s worst drought in over 80 years is severely impacting drinking water, agriculture, and hydroelectric energy supplies serving millions of people, the BBC reports. The shortage of rainfall during the wet season has forced policymakers to consider measures to manage consumption. Many other countries could mitigate similar risks through improved planning. The Water Institute recently ranked the top 20 countries worldwide for exposure to drought, floods, and cyclones, and further broke it down by rural and urban populations for all 228 countries and territories worldwide. These findings can help prioritize aid decisions and allocate resources between countries and within a country.

Conference News

Water Microbiology Conference

The Water Microbiology Conference 2015 will be held May 18-21 at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Registration is open at the Early Bird Rate until April 1. We are announcing a call for late-breaking abstracts for poster presentations. The abstracts must align with the conference themes and, if accepted, will be offered a poster presentation. Submissions are accepted until April 13.

Water and Health Conference

Abstracts and side event proposal submissions will be accepted until April 24 for the 2015 Water and Health Conference to be held October 26-30 at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. This event brings together research with policy, practice, and networking events to consider drinking water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resources in both the developing and developed worlds. The conference themes are:

  • WaSH for the future: SDGs, innovation, resources, integration, and urbanization
  • Hygiene and behavior
  • WaSH in emergencies and outbreaks
  • Learning from practice: MEL, action research, case studies
  • Water supply and quality
  • Sanitation: protecting households, communities and environment

Water Institute News

Open recruitment for director for research

The Water Institute at UNC is recruiting a research professor to serve as its director for research and work alongside the Institute’s director, staff and students. This person will oversee the implementation of the overall research effort of The Water Institute and develop and maintain strong and effective partnerships with collaborators. The successful applicant will conduct and guide research in their area of expertise; teach and mentor graduate and/or undergraduate students and guide post-doctoral researchers in methods and applications within their domain(s) of expertise; and lead and manage the identification, development, and submission of proposals aligned with the Institute’s focus areas.

Seeking knowledge management associate

The Water Institute at UNC is recruiting a knowledge management associate to work with our knowledge manager to provide support to projects including those related to community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS). The associate will gather, organize, and analyze technical information and research findings, and then propose and develop formats for sharing knowledge in an accessible way for diverse audiences.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Sustainability and scale-up of household water treatment and safe storage practices: enablers and barriers to effective implementation. Ojomo E, Elliott M, Goodyear L, Forson M, and Jamie Bartram. In press. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2015.03.002

Boiling is currently the only method to achieve scale for water safety at home. This study identifies enablers and barriers to household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) scale-up and sustainability. Using interviews of 72 practitioners in 25 countries, six domains of enablers and barriers were identified. HWTS programs need to consider all six domains to achieve scale-up and sustainability. Findings can be used by governments, NGOs, and other organizations to improve effectiveness and efficiency in HWTS programs.

Nitrate variability in groundwater of North Carolina using monitoring and private well data modelsMessier K, Kane E, Bolich R, and Marc Serre. Environmental Science and Technology 2014, 48 (18): 10804-10812. doi: 10.1021/es502725f

Nitrate is a widespread contaminant of ground water and surface water across the United States. Researchers developed a model for predicting nitrate levels in monitoring wells and private wells in North Carolina. Results show significant differences in the spatial distribution of groundwater nitrate contamination in monitoring versus private wells. These results could be used by drinking water regulatory agencies or those who monitor health outcomes from drinking water.

Drinking water quality governance: A comparative case study of Brazil, Ecuador, and Malawi. Kayser G, Amjad U, Dalcanale F, Bartram J, and Margaret Bentley. Environmental Science & Policy 48: 186-195. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2014.12.019

Human health is greatly affected by inadequate access to sufficient and safe drinking water, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This study investigates drinking water challenges in Brazil, Ecuador, and Malawi using a clustering model for country selection and qualitative semi-structured interviews with direct observation in data collection. Field research analysis was used to develop a conceptual framework that identifies important policy levers to influence governance and the relationships between these levers. The study shows that access to safe water could improve if certain governance challenges are addressed.


Campus WaSH News: Water in Our World

Water in Our World is UNC’s first ever campus-wide theme, running from 2012 to 2015

Life in the Post-Mekong: Contested Histories and Techno-Futures

David Biggs, an associate professor of history at the University of California at Riverside, will offer this lecture on Tuesday April 14, 2015, at 5:30 PM in Room 1005 of the FedEx Global Education Center on UNC-Chapel Hill’s Campus. This lecture is part of the UNC Global Research Institute’s Spring 2015 Water Speaker Series.

Research spotlight: Optimizing oyster reef restoration

UNC-Chapel Hill features this Research Spotlight on Justin Ridge, a doctoral student at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, North Carolina. His research focuses primarily on optimizing oyster reef restoration in intertidal areas of North Carolina’s sounds.
If you are interested in donating to The Water Institute, please visit our “make a gift” page.