Category Archives: Research

New WHO estimates on stunting; Dec 2016 WASH studies

UNICEF-WHO-The World Bank Group: Joint child malnutrition estimates – levels and trends: Key findings of the 2016 edition. WHO; UNICEF. In September 2016 the inter-agency team released new joint estimates of child stunting, overweight, underweight, wasting and severe wasting.

Trop Med Intl Health – Dec 2016

Is pregnancy a teachable moment to promote handwashing with soap among primiparous women in rural Bangladesh? Follow-up of a randomised controlled trial (Abstract/order)

Potential sources of bias in the use of Escherichia coli to measure waterborne diarrhoea risk in low-income settings(Abstract/order)

Rapid dipstick detection of Vibrio cholerae in household stored and municipal water in Dhaka, Bangladesh: CHoBI7 trial (Abstract/order)

Environmental Health Perspectives – December 2016

Salting the Earth: The Environmental Impact of Oil and Gas Wastewater Spills

Am Jnl Trop Med Hyg – Nov 2016

Effectiveness of Membrane Filtration to Improve Drinking Water: A Quasi-Experimental Study from Rural Southern India (Full text)

Early Childhood Diarrhea Predicts Cognitive Delays in Later Childhood Independently of Malnutrition(Abstract/order)

Herd Protection from Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Interventions (Abstract/order)

Improved Sanitation Facilities are Associated with Higher Body Mass Index and Higher Hemoglobin Concentration Among Rural Cambodian Women in the First Trimester of Pregnancy (Abstract/order)

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(12)

Assessment of Macro-Level Socioeconomic Factors That Impact Waterborne Diseases: The Case of Jordan (Full text)

An Annotated Bibliography on Shared Sanitation – November 28, 2016

An Annotated Bibliography of 2015 and 2016 Studies and Reports on Shared Sanitation – November 28, 2016

 2016 Studies and Reports

1 – Shared sanitation: to include or to exclude? Trans Roy Soc Trop Med & Hygiene, May 2016. Duncan Mara.  (Abstract/order)
Recent research has shown that neighbor-shared toilets perform much better than large communal toilets. The successful development of community-designed, built and managed sanitation-and-water blocks in very poor urban areas in India should be adapted and adopted throughout urban slums in developing countries, with a caretaker employed to keep the facilities clean. Such shared sanitation should be classified as ‘basic’, sometimes as ‘safely-managed’, sanitation, so contributing to the achievement of the sanitation target of the Sustainable Development Goals.

2 – Can behaviour change approaches improve the cleanliness and functionality of shared toilets? A randomised control trial in Dhaka, Bangladesh. WSUP, May 2016.
(Full text)
This project demonstrated that a behavior change communication intervention built upon in-depth qualitative understanding of the perspective and constraints of local residents could improve toilet cleanliness, even in the setting of severe constraints: notably water shortages and the absence of fecal sludge management systems. The most important step towards improving environmental sanitation in Dhaka is to address the absence of any fecal sludge management system. To improve the quality and cleanliness of shared facilities, behavior change strategies targeting the central role that landlords and community managers play can be particularly effective. Future research might explore: 1) how compound managers and/or landlords can make improvements to toilet cleanliness without project-funded hardware; 2) how to leverage mass media approaches to reduce the cost of behavior change communication; 3) how the effectiveness of specific behavior change strategies varies by gender; and 4) further evaluations to assess the sustainability of these efforts to improve toilet cleanliness.

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PLoS journals launch WASH collection

As a contribution to World Toilet Day, PLoS has compiled its 2014-2016 WASH-related articles at: plos.PNG

The 2016 studies include:

Interpreting the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) Findings on Sanitation, Hygiene, and Diarrhea, PLOS Medicine : 03 May 2016

The Hygiene Hypothesis and Its Inconvenient Truths about Helminth Infections, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases : 15 Sep 2016

Scaling up Rural Sanitation in India, PLOS Medicine : 26 Aug 2014

Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices regarding Diarrhea and Cholera following an Oral Cholera Vaccination Campaign in the Solomon Islands, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases : 22 Aug 2016

Ivermectin Treatment and Sanitation Effectively Reduce Strongyloides stercoralis Infection Risk in Rural Communities in Camb…, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases : 22 Aug 2016

Who Delivers without Water? A Multi Country Analysis of Water and Sanitation in the Childbirth Environment, PLOS ONE : 17 Aug 2016

High-Resolution Spatial Distribution and Estimation of Access to Improved Sanitation in Kenya, PLOS ONE : 12 Jul 2016

Sanitation and Hygiene-Specific Risk Factors for Moderate-to-Severe Diarrhea in Young Children in the Global Enteric Multicenter St…, PLOS Medicine : 03 May 2016

A Global Perspective on Drinking-Water and Sanitation Classification: An Evaluation of Census Content, PLOS ONE : 17 Mar 2016

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UC Davis Researchers Streamline Fertilizer Production

UC Davis Researchers Streamline Fertilizer Production. WEF Highlights, November 11, 2016.

University of California, Davis (UCD) researchers are thinking outside of the box, using urine collected in the community to develop a more environmentally friendly fertilizer.

Harold Leverenz, lecturer and project scientist for the civil and environmental engineering program at UCD, works with his research team to create all-natural, locally sourced fertilizers.


While Sudwerk Brewery (Davis, Calif.) also features classic indoor restrooms, patrons who choose to use the Pee Hive receive a $1 discount on their purchases in addition to the knowledge that they are contributing to science. Photo courtesy of George Tchobanoglous, University of California, Davis.

His unique process, which offers significant energy and water savings over traditional fertilizer production methods, collects high amounts of plant nutrients from an unlikely source — the urine from customers of a local brewery.

Through a unique partnership with Sudwerk Brewery (Davis, Calif.) and generous donations from project contributors, Leverenz and his team have secured about 132 L (35 gal) of nitrogen- and phosphorous-rich urine each week since installing a specialized outhouse made from a sawed-off beer keg outside Sudwerk’s tasting room in June. Leverenz is hopeful that the collection rate will increase as UCD students settle into a new school year.

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Recently published sanitation research

Have We Substantially Underestimated the Impact of Improved Sanitation Coverage on Child Health? A Generalized Additive Model Panel Analysis of Global Data on Child Mortality and Malnutrition. PLoS One, October 2016. | Summary in Science Daily | Improving sanitation coverage may be one of the more effective means to reduce childhood mortality, but only if high levels of community coverage are achieved. Studies of the impact of sanitation that focus on the individual’s use of improved sanitation as the predictor variable rather than community coverage is likely to severely underestimate the impact of sanitation.

Risk Factors for Childhood Stunting in 137 Developing Countries: A Comparative Risk Assessment Analysis at Global, Regional, and Country Levels. PLoS Medicine, November 2016.
Efforts to further reduce stunting should be focused on fetal growth restriction and poor sanitation, and this will require refocusing prevention programs on interventions that reach mothers and families and improve their living environment and nutrition.

Costs of Diarrhoea and Acute Respiratory Infection Attributable to Not Handwashing: The Cases of India and China. Tropical Medicine and International Health, November 2016. Results from this study suggest large economic gains relating to decreases in diarrhea and acute respiratory infection for both India and China from behavior change programs to increase handwashing with soap in households.

Early Childhood Diarrhea Predicts Cognitive Delays in Later Childhood Independently of Malnutrition. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, September 2016. This study assesses the independent contributions of early childhood diarrhea (ECD) and malnutrition on cognitive impairment in later childhood. It provides evidence that ECD and stunting may have independent effects on children’s intellectual function well into later childhood.

Microwave Treatment of Faecal Sludge from Intensively Used Toilets in the Slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Journal of Environmental Management, December 2016. This study explores the applicability of microwave technology to treat fecal sludge obtained from urine-diverting dry toilets placed in slum settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.

Early Testing of New Sanitation Technology for Urban Slums: The Case of the Blue Diversion Toilet. Science of the Total Environment, January 2017. Inadequate sanitation in urban slums is a threat to the total environment. This study finds that source separation and onsite water recycling is feasible and has market potential.

2016 National Water Research Institute Clarke Prize Award

2016 National Water Research Institute Clarke Prize Award – Honoring Excellence in Water Research

Consisting of a medallion and $50,000 check, the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize is one of only a dozen water prizes awarded worldwide. It has been distinguished by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards as one of the most prestigious awards in the world. clarke

We are pleased to announce that public health microbiologist Mark Sobsey, Ph.D., will be the twenty-third recipient of the NWRI Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research. Sobsey is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Microplastics in agricultural soils: A reason to worry?

Microplastics in agricultural soils: A reason to worry? Science Daily, October 28 2016.

Microplastics are increasingly seen as an environmental problem of global proportions. While the focus to date has been on microplastics in the ocean and their effects on marine life, microplastics in soils have largely been overlooked. Researchers are concerned about the lack of knowledge regarding potential consequences of microplastics in agricultural landscapes from application of sewage sludge.

Sewage sludge is in principle waste, but it can also represent a resource in agriculture and horticulture. Fertilizer based on sludge contains valuable nutrients, but sustainable use requires that the levels of undesirable substances in the sludge is kept under control. Waste water treatment plants receive large amounts of microplastics emitted from households, industry and surface run-off in urban areas. Most of these microplastics accumulate in the sewage sludge.

Today, sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants is applied to agricultural areas as a supplement to traditional fertilizers. These applications are generally well regulated as sludge might contain hazardous substances of different sorts. Microplastics are however not currently on the regulatory agenda for the use of sludge in agriculture. The potential consequences for sustainability and food security have not been adequately analyzed.

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