Newsletter: May 28, 2015, Issue #54



Global WaSH News

NGOs urge post-2015 decree to recognize human right to water and sanitation

Hundreds of non-governmental organizations are calling for a proposed political declaration for the U.N.’s post-2015 development agenda to explicitly recognize the human right to water and sanitation. The agenda, along with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is expected to be adopted at a summit meeting of world leaders Sep. 25-27 in New York. Newly-published research from The Water Institute at UNC would provide a means of measuring progress in access and equity and inform investment decisions.

U.S. federal funding trends for water and wastewater

A new report, Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014 explores spending trends in U.S. federal, state, and local government. Funding levels have decreased dramatically — nearly fourfold between 1980 and 2014. Increased investment is needed to bolster existing networks and eliminate inequities in access such as those uncovered by The Water Institute in Wake County, North Carolina. Other work has revealed regulatory gaps in US legislation which, if addressed, could help mitigate the risks of under-investment and thereby improve water quality and human health.

Conference News

2015 Water and Health Conference: Registration open; sponsorships available

The 2015 Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy will be held October 26-30 at The Friday Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Registration is open and the early bird rate is available until August 14. We appreciate our 2015 Water and Health Conference sponsors. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Water Microbiology Conference 2015: Content online

Thank you to all who joined us for the Water Microbiology Conference 2015! We had a great week of side events, networking, presentations, and keynotes from the field’s top researchers. This event was made possible by our Water Microbiology Conference 2015 sponsors: Bio-Rad, NSF International, Aquagenx, Artel, Charm Sciences, InnovaPrep, and Bawell Health. Presentations from the Conference as well as photos and other materials will be added to the archived 2015 website as they become available.

Water Institute News

WaSH Performance Index: Report and webcast video now available online

On May 8, we launched our WaSH Performance Index featuring special guest speakers Catarina de Albuquerque, the vice chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), and Ed Cain, vice president of grant programs for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The Index fairly compares country performance in water and sanitation access and equity. Country rankings for 2015 revealed surprising leaders in both water and sanitation: El Salvador, Niger, and Pakistan are performing better in improving water and sanitation for their citizens than industrial giants like Russia and Brazil. Sub-Saharan African countries including Mali, South Africa, and Ethiopia are also among the top performers worldwide in spite of modest resources.

New faces at The Water Institute

Jordan Dalton joined The Water Institute this month as our web and technology manager. He will manage our web site and support web-based communications activities. Jordan holds a Master of Fine Arts in Media Art from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and previously worked with KDS, a design agency in Atlanta, Georgia, where he directed their Interactive Studio.

Ashley Williams joined The Water Institute as a research associate for a number of projects and as part of our Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team. Ashley received her master of environmental engineering from UNC-Chapel Hill and previously worked as a graduate research assistant and a research associate with The Water Institute.

Two staff members on to new adventures

We would like to extend our most sincere gratitude and best wishes to two of our staff members, Crystal Ki and Chris Cline, who are moving on to new opportunities this spring. We are grateful for their countless contributions to The Water Institute.

Hiring new team members

We are hiring for three positions at The Water Institute: Director for Research, Project Support Assistant, and a Post-Doctoral Researcher in sanitation. The Director for Research, an open-rank research professor, will lead research in their area of expertise, teach and mentor graduate and undergraduate students, and guide post-doctoral researchers in methods and applications. The Project Support Assistant will refine and execute post-award standard operating procedures from implementation to post-completion. The Post-Doctoral Researcher in sanitation 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 management chain.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Shields, Katherine F., Robert E.S. Bain, Ryan Cronk, Jim A. Wright, and Jamie Bartram. In press. “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. doi:10.1289/ehp.1409002

Monitoring access to drinking water focuses on water supply at the source, but less is known about whether water quality differences at the source persist in water stored at home. Researchers performed a meta-analysis of 45 studies and found that water quality deteriorated significantly between the source and household stored water (HSW). However, piped water is less likely to be contaminated at the source and in HSW than any other source type. A focus on upgrading water services to piped supplies is likely to improve quality for all, including for those drinking stored water.

Cronk, Ryan, Jeanne Luh, Benjamin Mason Meier, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. “The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Performance Index: A comparison of country performance in realizing universal WaSH.” Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) are essential to human health and development, and water and sanitation are recognized as human rights. Proposed global targets for the post-2015 SDGs call for universal access to WASH and reducing inequalities in access. The forthcoming SDGs provide potential for convergence of human development and human rights policy. New instruments are necessary to monitor and evaluate country performance on WaSH and to ensure progressive realization of the human right to water and sanitation. The WaSH Performance Index meets these needs by comparing country performance on increasing access and equity to best-in-class performance at different levels of water and sanitation coverage.

Hadwen, Wade L, Bronwyn Powell, Morgan C MacDonald, Mark Elliott, Terence Chan, Wolfgang Gernjak, and William G L Aalbersberg. In press. “Putting WASH in the water cycle: climate change, water resources and the future of water, sanitation and hygiene challenges in Pacific Island Countries.” Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. doi:10.2166/washdev.2015.133.

The Pacific region presents some of the lowest water and sanitation coverage figures globally, with some countries showing stagnating or even declining access to improved water and sanitation. Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are among the most vulnerable countries on the globe to extreme and variable climatic events and sea-level rise caused by climate change. By exploring the state of water and sanitation coverage in PICs and projected climatic variations, the study adds to the growing case for conserving WaSH interventions within a holistic, integrated water resource management framework.

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