About the Center for International Water and Sustainability

Center for International Water and Sustainability BrochureDownload the Center for International Water and Sustainability Brochure Globally, 663 million people still lack access to safe water and 2.4 billion lack access to improved sanitation (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme 2015). The World Economic Forum in January 2015 cited the water crisis as the number one global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation). CIWAS is uniquely situated –a center with deep WASH knowledge located at an environmental research institute– and the Center is able to align a broad range of multidisciplinary talent for capacity-building projects and research.


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 and environmental solutions can be accomplished through the effective use of technology, using the latest methods and equipment, raising public awareness of WASH issues, and the transfer of knowledge and information through professional development training and capacity building.


CIWAS four main objectives support DRI’s goals of addressing gaps in knowledge, research, and human resource capacity gaps related to WASH and water resource management that persist in developing nations. Through CIWAS’ objectives, DRI achieves its mission of “increasing scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth's environment, promoting preservation of diverse ecosystems, advancing responsible resource management, and improving human health and welfare.”:

1. 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 and CIWAS is now working to identify and address new areas for capacity building and knowledge management. Based on these identified areas of need, CIWAS, in partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) is offering certificate programs, short courses and workshops to local field staff in developing countries at DRI and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). In addition, DRI is partnering with African universities to build their capacity, as well as exploring opportunities to support existing networks for African NGOs.

2. 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 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.

3. 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

4. Provide consulting services to funders, governments and international NGOs on the technical aspects of WASH interventions.

CIWAS provides advice and guidance to funders, governments 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 adapting and piloting the Circuit Rider methodology in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin American 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.