CIWAS Newsletter: See updates on our work.
CIWAS Newsletter: See updates on our work.

It has been a busy year for the Desert Research Institute's (DRI's) Center for International Water and Sustainability (CIWAS). Thanks to collaborative work within DRI, and our non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government partnerships, we have expanded our programs focused on building water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) capacity and sustainability.  We have also been actively pursuing new research opportunities, particularly around water resources management, water security, and climate change. All of these activities are central to the overall mission of CIWAS to provide technical support and action research to governments, NGOs, universities, and stakeholders across the developing world by identifying and solving problems related to human health and the management of environmental resources, especially water.

On behalf of the DRI/CIWAS team, I thank you for your interest and support of our work to improve lives.  We look forward to new opportunities for collaboration and partnerships over the coming year.

- Braimah Apambire, Director

Highlights of our Work:

WASH Capacity Building Program

DRI’s WASH Capacity Building Program has successfully continued to grow. The program is a collaboration between DRI; the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR); Drexel University; and World Vision International. We are happy to report that to date, sixty-eight (68) World Vision staff/students from 20 countries across Africa have completed the DRI/UNR track of the WASHCap program and have received their postgraduate certificates in International WASH. An additional twenty-eight (28) students enrolled in Cohort 4 commenced coursework in February 2019. Their first face-to-face instruction and field and laboratory work were held in Ghana, and the second session is scheduled for August 2019 in Eswatini. Three students from India also enrolled in the program, which was the first time students outside of Africa enrolled. DRI faculty Dr. Erick Bandala and Braimah Apambire, as well as consultants from the WASH sector and faculty from the University for Development Studies (UDS) participated in the teaching program.

Circuit Rider Program in Ghana 

DRI/CIWAS is currently working on developing the second phase of the Circuit Rider Program in the East Gonja District in Northern Ghana. This project is in partnership with the East Gonja Municipality (EGM), the Ghana Community Water and Sanitation Agency, and UDS and is supported by grants to DRI from the Geisse Foundation and Wallace Genetic Foundation. The Geisse Foundation funding allowed DRI to advance loan funding to the EGM to purchase motorized tricycles for the Circuit Riders to improve their transportation. These motorized tricycles are helping the Circuit Riders reach the communities they serve and provide necessary repairs and maintenance to the WASH systems. The motorized tricycles also provide an additional income stream to help offset the costs to Circuit Riders of routine maintenance visits.

Click here to see our “Circuit Rider Program Summaries, Stories, and Successes.”

WASH in Healthcare Facilities (HCFs) Project

Claire Wang, CIWAS Program Manager, has been working on our new WASH in Healthcare Facilities (HCFs) Project. The WASH in HCFs Project consists of designing a model to help field staff operate, maintain, and repair their WASH systems to ensure long-term sustainability. CIWAS is collaborating with Transform International to pilot the project in Northern Malawi.

On June 19, 2019, Braimah Apambire participated in a WASH in healthcare facilities stakeholders meeting to kick off a process of securing commitments through 2019. The event was co-hosted by Global Water 2020 and the Global Health Council. This was a very successful meeting with more than 120 participants and 78 commitments. DRI and Transform International committed to building long-term sustainability of WASH services in healthcare facilities by focusing on strengthening local capacity, as well as developing monitoring, evaluation, resolution, and learning (MERL) frameworks. Building on our experience with the Circuit Rider methodology, we aim to develop, test, and share guidelines that can be used by the facilities and local governments to provide a system for the ongoing operation and maintenance of WASH services. To learn more, click here.

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Study in Ghana

CIWAS, DRI scientists and the Ghana Standards Authority have been studying the possible occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in four reservoirs that supply water to the two largest cities in Ghana. HABs are the rapid and uncontrolled accumulation of algae in freshwater or marine ecosystems, which can produce toxins that affect humans and the environment. In March 2019, Braimah Apambire presented Phase I results from DRI’s study on HABs and cyanotoxins in Ghana to the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, Ghana Water Company Limited, and the water sector. Results from the study were well received and the possibility of designing a second phase of the study is being discussed. DRI faculty Dr. Alan Heyvaert is leading this study.

January 2019 International WASH Conference

In mid-January 2019, DRI/CIWAS co-hosted an international WASH conference with the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale, Ghana. Other organizations that co-sponsored the Conference were the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), World Vision Ghana, Ghana Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), and the Universities WASH (UWASH) Network. The theme for the conference was “WASH and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Successes, Challenges, Lessons Learned, and the Way Forward,” and it attracted more than 100 participants from Ghana and the sub-region. Next year’s conference is being planned with the theme of “Climate Change and Sustainability of WASH Services” and it will take place at the UDS International Conference Center on January 30 and 31, 2020.

Fluoride Treatment Technology

Drinking water supplies for millions of people in the world are contaminated by naturally occurring fluoride. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the acceptable guideline limit for fluoride in drinking water is 1.5 mg/L and exposure to higher concentrations leads to various health conditions. To prevent health effects on rural populations exposed to excess fluoride concentrations in water supplies, affordable, cost-effective, low-energy fluoride removal—known as defluoridation—is needed to protect people in isolated regions.
CIWAS is collaborating with DRI faculty Dr. Erick Bandala and his team in researching the use of Moringa oleifera (MO) seed extract with electrocoagulation (EC) technology as a cheap methodology for water defluoridation in rural communities in developing countries. MO is naturally available in developing countries and PV solar panels can be used to avoid dependence on the electric grid and promote the use of EC. So far, laboratory results are encouraging. However, additional research is being conducted to explore the real potential of using the MO/EC system for water defluoridation, identify the best process conditions, and assess the feasibility of continuous drinking water treatment in the field.

Braimah Apambire Serving on the UNR Ozmen Institute for Global Studies International Advisory Board

In March 2019, Braimah joined the International Advisory Board of the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies at UNR. The institute was established at UNR in July 2018 through an endowment provided by Eren and Fatih Ozmen of the Sierra Nevada Corporation in Sparks, Nevada. The institute serves as the central hub to develop, enhance, and stimulate globally-focused initiatives across campus. Its mission is to develop joint research projects around thematic clusters such as globalization, international security, economic development, immigration and border studies, and geopolitical and strategic studies. The institute will also cultivate public awareness of global issues that are important to northern Nevada communities.

CIWAS Joins the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA)

DRI/CIWAS became an affiliate member of the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) in April this year. The partnership with MWA will allow CIWAS to contribute to improving stakeholder resilience to water security risks in developing countries by strengthening the capacity of host country governments, communities, and institutions to protect the ecosystem services and safeguard access to water supplies for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being and socio-economic development. This partnership is mutually beneficial for both CIWAS and MWA in terms of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) 6.

Claire Wang and Zuly Echeverria Join CIWAS

Claire Wang and Zuly Echeverria began working with CIWAS in early December. 

Claire is the Manager of International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sustainability Programs for CIWAS. She holds a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) and a Bachelors in Civil and Environmental Engineering both from Columbia University. Her involvement in WASH began as a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders, leading the design and construction of water projects in Ghana and Kenya.

Zuly is the Program Coordinator for CIWAS. She received her Associate of General Studies Degree (AGS) from Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) in Reno, Nevada; there she acquired the knowledge, skills, and values of her broad academic education. She is now attending National University in Henderson, Nevada where she is pursuing her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Business Management.

New Research Areas: 

Nevada Governor’s Trade Mission to Ghana

As a follow up to former Nevada Governor Sandoval’s Trade Mission to Ghana and South Africa last year, a delegation from the Eastern Region of Ghana visited Nevada in March 2019. The delegation members, Mr. Eric Kwakye Darfour, the Eastern Regional Minister of Ghana, and Professor Samuel Obeng Apori, Board Chair of the Koforidua Technical University, visited our Reno campus. During their visit, they had the opportunity to meet faculty and tour our labs. The delegation had discussions with Kumud Acharya, Tim Minor, and Braimah Apambire of DRI about developing a proposal with the Government of Ghana to help address issues related to illegal mining in the country. Representatives from DRI, UNLV, and the Governor’s Office held another meeting with the delegates at UNLV to discuss possible collaborations and project developments in Ghana.
Click to learn more about CIWAS
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