Newsletter: April 23, 2015, Issue #53



Global WaSH News

Amid drought, California water virtually draining away

In a time of drought, “virtual water” use (water used to make goods or produce crops) must be accounted for. Africa, North and South America, and Australia export more “virtual water” than they import in the form of traded crops and goods. In California, inexpensive water costs due to water rights are masking the true cost of water-intensive crop production during drought.

Insecticides threaten aquatic ecosystems

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences evaluated comprehensive global insecticide contamination in agricultural surface waters for the first time. The results revealed that more than 40% of samples contained an insecticide concentration that exceeds regulatory threshold levels. Risk of insecticides for aquatic ecosystems is high even in highly regulated areas, such as the EU or the US.

Conference News

Water and Health Conference

The deadline for abstracts and side event proposals for the UNC Water and Health Conference is extended to Friday, May 1. Submissions should align with this year’s themes:

  • 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 Microbiology Conference

The Water Microbiology Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill will be held May 18-21 and will now offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for participation. Be sure to register and secure your accommodations. The agenda is online, including verbal and poster presentation schedules, side events, and keynote talk topics from Dr. Ronald Atlas, Dr. Huw Taylor, Dr. Gary D. Toranzos, and Dr. Marylynn Yates. Along with our partner, the Water Environment Federation, we appreciate the support of this year’s Conference sponsors: Bio-Rad, NSF International, Aquagenx, Artel, Charm Sciences, InnovaPrep, and Bawell Health.

Water Institute News

Webcast event: Launch of WaSH Performance Index

We invite you to join us for a webcast on Friday, May 8 at 10:00 am EST from UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. We will launch a WaSH Performance Index with a special guest speaker and open discussion both locally and via webcast.

New project underway to estimate unsafe return of excreta to environment

The Water Institute will develop and pilot approaches to estimate the fraction of human excreta unsafely returned to the environment and where in the sanitation chain this occurs. A “global scorecard” for excreta management will be developed to more effectively assess progress and needs for improvement. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Open recruitment for director for research

The Water Institute at UNC is recruiting an open-rank research professor to serve as its director for research. The successful applicant will lead research in their area of expertise; teach and mentor graduate and/or undergraduate students; guide post-doctoral researchers in methods and applications; and lead and manage 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 support 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 including 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

Rethinking Sustainability, Scaling Up, and Enabling Environment: A Framework for Their Implementation in Drinking Water Supply. Amjad U, Ojomo E, Downs K, Cronk R, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. Water 7: 1497-1514. doi:10.3390/w7041497.

The terms sustainability, scaling up, and enabling environment are inconsistently used in implementing water supply projects. To clarify these, researchers developed a framework based on Normalization Process Theory and applied it to a hypothetical water supply project. The result provides guidance on how these terms could be implemented and analyzed in water supply projects. Researchers conclude that effective use of these terms would focus on purpose, process, and perspective.

Lack of toilets and safe water in health-care facilities. Bartram J, Cronk R, Montgomery M, Gordon B, Neira M, Kelley E and Yael Velleman. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 93: 210. doi:10.2471/BLT.15.154609.

This editorial follows the recent WHO report that called attention to the alarming lack of WaSH in health care facilities in low-and middle-income countries. The authors call first for the establishment of policies and standards and for progress tracking on delivering appropriate services. Second, they recommend sufficient human and financial resources and delivery support with facility-based risk assessments and management plans. Finally, the authors assert that better leadership and coordination are needed for closely related health and development initiatives.


Campus WaSH News

Catarina de Albuquerque to receive honorary degree from UNC-Chapel Hill

Catarina de Albuquerque, a world-renowned international human rights lawyer and advocate, will receive an honorary degree from UNC-Chapel Hill at its May 10 commencement ceremony. De Albuquerque served as the first U.N. special rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, holding the position until 2014. She currently serves as the vice chair of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership.

UNC Chancellor to deliver water lecture

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt, an internationally recognized environmental scientist whose research has focused on the effects of mercury and arsenic on human and ecosystem health, salmonid fisheries management and restoration, and global climate change, will deliver the lecture “Water in Our World: Past Is Present, Future Is Fragile, But We Can Make a Difference” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the FedEx Global Education Center on UNC’s campus.
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