World Vision has partnered with The Water Institute at University of North Carolina (UNC Water Institute) to offer academic insight about the important developments within the field of water. Currently World Vision and the UNC Water Institute have a six- year partnership focused on using evidence to drive widespread programme improvement. Through this partnership, World Vision and the UNC Water Institute aim to bridge the gap between research and implementation to share learnings that will move the sector forward in achieving universal and equitable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for all by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal –SDG 6).
Partnership focus areas
Rigorous program evaluation
In 2014, UNC conducted a 10-country population based evaluation of World Vision’s WASH program. Surveys were conducted at households (n=26,851), schools (n=2,568), health facilities (n=1,453), and water points (n=1,105), contributing to a robust evidence base that is not only useful for World Vision, but can be used widely by the sector to inform policy, improvements, and progress toward SDG 6. These evaluations are planned to continue every 3 years and will expand from 10 to 15 countries, including programs in Latin America and Asia.
Qualitative Research Studies
This qualitative research will investigate results around key areas of interest illuminated by the evaluations. Research published in 2015 demonstrated a high rate of long-term functionality of World Vision’s water points in areas in Ghana based on the role of a functioning water committee, In 2016, a qualitative study was conducted to better understand the key factors that lead to successful water committees, which revealed greater insight into the social determinants that lead to long-term sustainability. These included community ownership, the meaningful involvement of women, and alternative options to resource mobilization. UNC is also in the midst of a three-year longitudinal study of World Vision’s mechanized solar-powered drinking water systems, capturing the formal and informal processes that promote sustainability in solar projects.
UNC has published summary results of one recent study focusing on processes for sustainability of community-managed water systems. One report documented necessary steps to facilitate a cycle of success, and another focused on the role of women in management of water-committees.
Transforming Data into Action
UNC and World Vision are developing an innovating learning strategy to ensure that data is used for rapid and iterative program improvement. As evaluations and research illuminate opportunities for improvement, the partners utilize innovative approaches, like Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), to leverage data into rapid improvements. Initially funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, CQI was applied to WASH for the first time in 2014 to World Vision’s Ghana WASH program. As a result, a statistically significant reduction in microbial contamination of stored household drinking water was observed in households with safe storage containers, and a statistically significant reduction in reported diarrhea was observed in households with safe storage containers. CQI is now being scaled in West Africa WASH programs and beyond.
The UNC Water Institute holds an annual Water and Health conference. See World Vision's activities at the 2016 Water and Health Conference.