CIWAS Research Themes and Capabilities

CIWAS leverages DRI’s extensive expertise in environmental sciences to conduct interdisciplinary research and provide technical capacity to universities, NGOs and governments working to identify and solve problems related to human health and management of environmental resources. Significant gaps in knowledge and research related to global WASH persist and continue to impede developing countries efforts to develop.  Addressing these gaps requires researchers from a variety of disciplines.  CIWAS’ research and capabilities go well beyond WASH and include:

wash capabilitiesWater, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) capabilities include:

  • Developing and teaching custom-made short and long-term capacity building courses for local WASH and environmental professionals in developing countries. Courses cover cross-cutting sectors such as health, agriculture, micro-finance, environment, climate change etc.
  • Training on long-term sustainability of WASH services using the Circuit Rider Methodology
  • Conducting action research and country-wide WASH landscaping.
  • Data and knowledge management
  • Brokering, managing and hosting complex international partnerships
  • WASH project/program assessment and design
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning
  • Use of modern technology (satellite imagery and geophysics) to locate sites for well drilling
  • Assess remotely-sensed imagery as a tool to help map groundwater favorability for drilling show/manual wells
  • Managing water quality issues in developing countries


  • Watersheds, surface water and ecological modeling
  • Development of integrated watershed science tools to facilitate informed decision-making for sustainable management of watersheds
  • Facilitation of the development of interdisciplinary teams that address watershed science, planning and restoration to provide the information needed for understanding the behavior of watersheds in a planning and management policy context
  • Groundwater flow and transport modeling
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Plant/ecosystem ecology
  • Threatened and endangered species
  • Cataloguing of available historical information from sources including; river/rain gauges; geological and hydrogeological surveys; soil and vegetation surveys
  • Cataloguing available gridded/estimated data sets for potential use in data-sparse areas
  • Evaluating and recommending potential models for use, ranging from MS Excel spreadsheets to highly coded models such as PRMS
  • Evaluation of natural recharge in micro-watersheds and identifying effective ways of conducting artificial groundwater recharge into aquifers.
  • Determination of optimal sites for rainwater catchment systems to increase water supplies

waterqualityWater Quality

  • Increasing the analytical capacity of developing countries’ water quality labs through staff training and assessment of protocols and inter-laboratory comparisons
  • Assessment of surface and ground water quality
  • Water capture, storage, treatment and reuse
  • Conventional drinking water and wastewater plant design, evaluation and improvement/scale-up
  • Development and scaling-up of non-conventional, cost-effective water disinfection processes

climate changeClimate Change

  • Climate/climatology (data analysis, summary and display, and modeling of local, regional and global scale)
  • Assessments of relevant hydroclimate variability modes
  • Utilization of data to explore climate variability issues and natural resource management
  • Provision of climate data and information to public and private clients
  • Historical climate trends and regional climate modeling
  • Ability to develop instrumentation and techniques for ground-based, aircraft and satellite observation programs

gisremotesensingGIS, Remote Sensing and Data Analytics

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Remote sensing/Image processing
  • Invasive species monitoring
  • Alternative futures analysis
  • Desert terrain characterization
  • Innovations in applied data visualization and computational analysis, translating scientific ideas into practical, market-based solutions.
  • Analyzing information for QA/QC and trends with novel methods

agricultureClimate Change, Water and Agriculture

  • Atmospheric products for hydroclimate variability and climate change projections at relevant scales, including regional climate modeling, statistical downscaling products, and scale ready products for impact applications such as hydrologic, agriculture, ecosystem, and economic models
  • Development of adaptive water management strategies in light of climate change to ensure water remains available for multiple uses over time
  • Development of customized toolkits that offer step-by-step guidance for integrating climate change adaptation into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of water, agriculture and other development projects
  • Assistance in understanding the water consumption patterns of certain crops, and introducing low-cost, small-scale irrigation technologies that use minimum quantities of water in arid regions
  • Research and recommendations on crop alternatives or hybrids in light of climate change to ensure food security over time
  • Development of fast and versatile methods for monitoring agricultural drought over broad areas at risk of food insecurity
  • Increase understanding of the processes associated with land degradation and development of strategies to mitigate them  

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