Translating science for world water practice
KWR becomes WHO Collaborating Centre on Water Quality and Health
Just before Christmas, the management of the World Health Organization (WHO) announces that KWR has become an official WHO partner. KWR will now conduct existing and new activities that contribute to WHO’s objectives, and thus to world health, under the banner of “WHO Collaborating Centre on Water Quality and Health”. Among other things, KWR researchers test water treatment systems and contribute to knowledge transfer and training.
The new WHO Collaborating Centre is located at KWR, more specifically, in the Water Quality and Health Knowledge Group. Gertjan Medema, Chief Science Officer and professor of Water & Health, heads the centre, the objective of which is to support WHO’s mandate: striving for the maximum possible level of health for all of the world’s citizens. WHO provides advice worldwide in the area of water policy and regulation. When formulating its advice the organisation collects quality knowledge and translates it for world water practice.
Continuation and extension of the relationship
For over 40 years, KWR has conducted research into water quality and health – among others, with the Dutch water companies – and has built up a great deal of in-house expertise. Its designation as a Collaborating Centre signifies a continuation of the working relationship that already existed between KWR and WHO in the field of microbial and chemical water safety and sanitation. “For KWR, the designation represents a recognition of the value of our knowledge in the effort to help tackle global water quality problems,” says Medema. KWR had previously already contributed to WHO recommendations, by providing its knowledge on microbial risk analysis, Water Safety Plans and the health effects of drinking water hardness. In the years ahead, the translation of scientific knowledge for world water practice will remain central, so that the seed for a new approach to water quality and regulation has now been planted, which is also important for KWR’s clients.
“The designation is a recognition of the value of our knowledge of water quality”
Evaluation of Household Water Treatment Systems
The “partnership” between KWR and WHO will last four years and consist of continuing research into the microbial safety of water, giving workshops and trainings, and acting as a special laboratory in the event of disease outbreaks via water. In addition, KWR will function as a test laboratory to verify the effectiveness of Household Water Treatment (HWT) Systems, which make an important contribution in developing countries to reducing infant diseases and mortality caused by diarrhoea. WHO has selected KWR and the American National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) as test laboratories for these systems. “Evaluating the systems is an important matter,” says Margaret Montgomery of WHO. “We are proud to be coordinating this evaluation and couldn’t imagine having better partners than NSF and KWR.” The first tests will take place in mid 2014.
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Chief Science Officer
Manager Microbiology Laboratory and Project Manager