About the Center for International Water and Sustainability


Center for International Water and Sustainability BrochureDownload the Center for International Water and Sustainability Brochure The overall vision of CIWAS is to grow DRI’s capacity to provide both information and the technical capacity to governmental and non-governmental organizations working to identify and solve problems related to human health and management of environmental resources, especially water. Offering efficient and sustainable WASH solutions can be accomplished through effective use of technology, using the latest methods and equipment, raising public awareness of WASH issues, and the transference of knowledge and information through short courses and workshops.


With funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation CIWAS has targeted four main objectives to achieve DRI’s goals of addressing gaps in knowledge, research, and human resource capacity that persist in developing nations. Each of these objectives aims to increase the technical capacity of local staff in developing nations while avoiding duplication of existing programs and research initiatives.  Objectives include:

  • Undertake capacity building activities on water and environmental management issues focused specifically on challenges in the developing world.

    DRI has a successful history of developing long-term, well-funded research programs.  Under this objective DRI has identified areas for capacity building and improved knowledge management. Based on these identified areas of need, DRI has begun offering short courses and workshops to local field staff in developing countries at DRI and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Semester-long graduate and under-graduate courses will be also be offered at UNR that focus on the needs of students and professionals wishing to work in the international development sector.  In addition, DRI is developing programs in partnership with African universities to build their capacity, as well as exploring opportunities to support existing networks for African NGOs.

    DRI is also host of the Universities WASH Network.  The mission of UWASH is to increase human resource capacity for WASH in developing countries through integrated research and education programs.  UWASH is working to increase communication and coordination among universities engaged in international WASH issues will further support CIWAS’s other capacity building activities.
  • Engage in interdisciplinary, applied environmental research focused on addressing WASH issues specific to developing countries.

    Many of the problems faced by developing countries are not exclusively limited to water and sanitation and require researchers from a variety of disciplines. CIWAS’s research goes beyond just water and includes topics such as: climate change, desertification (especially in West Africa), WASH programming, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), water quality, and environmental health. Research is directed toward the study of all of these aspects as they relate to services for developing countries.
  • Develop and disseminate relevant information to enhance human development and environmental science in developing countries.

    CIWAS is developing web-based catalogs of publications that range in topic from emergency response to climate change.  Guidelines on best practices created from work done in developing countries are also disseminated through our website, social media, and by participation in WASH sector conferences and events.  In addition, CIWAS partners with other sector stakeholders to participate in advocacy efforts to increase awareness and funding for the global WASH crisis, including as part of the UWASH Network.
  • Provide consulting services to funders, including the Hilton Foundation, and international NGOs on the technical aspects of WASH interventions.

    CIWAS provides advice and guidance to funders and NGOs on the most effective areas to invest in the WASH sector and the design of future water initiatives. Post construction landscapes have been completed for target countries to identify opportunities for DRI to partner with other NGOs and government to improve the long-term sustainability of water projects.  In addition, as host of the International Circuit Rider Program, DRI is exploring opportunities to adapt and pilot the Circuit Rider methodology in sub-Saharan African countries, and has created a train-the-trainer curriculum to increase the technical capacity of WASH service providers and program managers involved in post-construction programs.