WaSH Policy Research Digest


We’ve converted the Digest to a podcast format!  Our podcasts will take the form of short interviews with researchers, data analysts, sector thinkers and decision makers – with the aim of bringing you the latest thinking on turning research and analysis into policy and practice.


WASH Policy Research Digest Podcast #1: Our inaugural podcast is the first of a two-part series on affordability in the WASH sector.

Why is affordability important, and what are the challenges in measuring it? An interview with Joe Cook of the School of Economic Sciences of Washington State University to discuss the August 2020 special issue on affordability and WASH in Water Economics and Policy.  Clarissa Brocklehurst and Joe discuss the difficulties in defining and measuring affordability, and the challenges in addressing it.  Joe provides some practical advice for policy makers on tariffs, subsidies and targeting.

Listen here on Anchor or Spotify.

Issue #Topic and Description
15Measuring Water Insecurity, June 2020
This issue examines definitions and methods for measuring household water insecurity, and reviews an innovative measure of the how households experience water insecurity.
> Read Issue #15
14WaSH Inequalities, December 2019
This issue examines a perplexing yet critical challenge in trying to reach universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all—reaching underserved minorities in high-income countries
> Read Issue #14
> Listen to Issue #14 Webinar

13Protecting the urban environment from fecal contamination, September 2019
This issue examines the impact of inadequate sanitation systems on urban environmental contamination and disease. 
> Read Issue #13
> Listen to Issue #13 Webinar

12Health Effects of Carrying Water, July 2019
This Digest examines the health effects of carrying water, in particular the impact on women and girls .
> Read Issue #12
> Listen to Issue #12 Webinar
11Multiple Water Source Use, June 2019
This Digest examines the use of multiple water sources by households in two small island developing states; a phenomenon that can contribute to resilience, especially to climate-related change. The accompanying literature review adds insight into the extent to which multiple source use occurs globally, and the risks and advantages associated with it.
> Read Issue #11
> Listen to Issue #11 Webinar
10 The Impacts of Seasonality on Rural Water Supply, December 2018
This Digest examines challenges water point management committees face during the rainy season. The accompanying literature review provides insight into the effect of seasonality on rural water quality, availability and use.
> Read Issue #10
> Listen to Issue #10 Webinar
9 Cholera Control, September 2018
The ninth issue of the WaSH Policy Research Digest focuses on cholera control.
> Read Issue #9
8 Remote Monitoring of Handpump Functionality, May 2018
This Digest focuses on remote monitoring of the functionality of rural handpumps.
> Read Issue #8
> Listen to Issue #8 Webinar
7 Intermittent Water Supply, December 2017
Much of the world’s population is served by piped water that is neither continuous nor reliable, and this jeopardizes water quality, and thus the health of users. It also costs users time and money, and damages water infrastructure. This Digest outlines the successful measures that utilities have put in place to ensure continuous supply.
> Read Issue #7
> Listen to Issue #7 Webinar
6 Community Management, August 2017
The Digest looks at the topic of community management in rural water supply. Management of water systems by local communities, once considered standard best practice, has come under fire of late due to its failure to ensure sustainable services in many contexts. This Digest argues that there are places in which it has worked, but considerable support is needed.
> Read Issue #6
> Watch Issue #6 Webinar
5 Water Tariffs and Subsidies, December 2017
This Digest focuses on subsidy targeting, specifically the poor performance of increasing block tariffs in targeting subsidies to low-income households. This issue explores recent literature on this topic, focusing on policy implications, and calls for decision-makers to consider alternative subsidy delivery mechanisms.
> Read Issue #5
4 Sanitation and Nutrition, August 2016
This issue explores the emerging evidence on the connection between sanitation, nutritional outcomes, and child stunting.
> Read Issue #4
3 Handpump Functionality Monitoring, March 2016
This issue explores recent literature on this topic, focusing on policy implications, recommendations, and a call for standardized functionality measurements.
> Read Issue #3
> Listen to Issue #3 Webinar
2 WaSH in Healthcare Facilities, November 2015
This issue addresses health care facilities, including a detailed review of WHO and UNICEF’s 2015 report on the topic and a synthesis of literature and solutions to address its impact on infection, mortality, maternal and neonatal health.
> Read Issue #2
1 Sanitation Subsidies, July 2015
This issue addresses when and how to use subsidies for on-site sanitation.
> Read Issue #1

About the Digest

Video: Former Water Institute Director Jamie Bartram introduces the WaSH Policy Research Digest

In 2013, The Water Institute and the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted civil servants from finance ministries in six African countries to learn about water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) sector decision making. This group unveiled perceptions of sector weaknesses that cause skepticism in finance ministries about sector investment effectiveness. The findings from this meeting suggest that the people making investment decisions, while convinced of economic and social benefits of WaSH, are unsure of how best to target financing. This highlighted the need for an information resource focused on supporting decision makers to develop effective policy in countries that are faced with WaSH challenges.

The WaSH sector lacks an easy-to-access resource that provides balanced information on policy best-practices, based soundly in evidence. Key country actors face time and resource constraints that prevent them from finding and analyzing the myriad of existing information for policy advice on WaSH programs.

The Water Institute at UNC developed the WaSH Policy Research Digest to meet the evidence needs of in-country decision makers. The Digest, published quarterly, has two sections: the first summarizes and explains the significance of recently published policy-relevant research or analysis, highlighting implications for WaSH policy. The second section focuses on a particular policy-relevant question with synthesis of available literature to reaching specific conclusions, highlighting policy relevant implications, and providing guidance to additional resources on the topic.

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