Angolahandpump historyTo help resolve WASH-related human resource challenges and strengthen the contributions of U.S. universities to the WASH sector, in 2009 a group of U.S. university faculty and researchers formed the University WASH Network.

The initial purpose of the Network was to promote the expansion and greater coordination of WASH activities in higher education and strengthen universities’ WASH linkages with the U.S. government, NGOs and academic institutions and governments abroad. With so many universities engaged in overseas research and outreach on WASH issues across sectors, great potential was seen to collaborate to address persistent human resource capacity gaps.

Partnerships between U.S. universities and those in the developing world can harness the WASH expertise of U.S. universities expertise and contribute to course development, training, implementation and professional development to increase human resource capacity in the WASH sector. They can also provide support for research into sustainable and scalable WASH interventions.

With funding from the Wallace Genetic Foundation, early activities a survey of global WASH activities by U.S. universities, which was shared a briefing on Capitol Hill in 2010. In 2011 Network members lobbied Congressional leaders to preserve international affairs funding for WASH and provided comments to USAID on their efforts to support university engagement in WASH through higher education institutions.

Activities slowed in 2012 and in 2013, WASH Advocates drafted Landscape Findings and Recommendations in an effort to jumpstart the Consortium and recommended a new host institution be selected. Following a rigorous search, The Desert Research Institute, as part of their new Center for International Water and Sustainability (CIWAS) was recommended to be the Network’s new host in 2013.