KWR is a Collaborating Centre (CC) of the World Health Organization (WHO). We are an interesting partner for WHO because of our expertise in water quality and health, a product of over 40 years of research in the field. As a CC we conduct a variety of activities. The operation of the Dutch water sector within WHO strengthens our international profile and our involvement in global water policy and regulation.
Collaborating knowledge institutes provide specialised advice
KWR has been a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (CC) on Water Quality and Health since its designation in 2013. Under the umbrella of the United Nations – an important player in the field of international water policy – CCs can themselves initiate research projects.
CCs are institutes which, within the framework of long-term collaborations, help WHO carry out its work and achieve its goals. Through these collaborations, WHO gains access to the best institutions all over the world and the institutional capacity required to accomplish its work. Worldwide, the 15 CCs in the field of water and sanitation collect data for WHO reports, organise meetings or develop guidelines. WHO works with knowledge institutes like KWR because it frequently needs specialised advice. On the basis of more than 40 years’ research into water quality and health we have a great deal of in-house expertise. This makes us an interesting partner for WHO.
KWR meets WHO criteria for Collaborating Centres
For KWR, the designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre represents a recognition by the national authorities and the international community. We meet the criteria of high-quality scientific and technical leadership in our professional field, with a significant number of highly qualified staff. Our excellent laboratory facilities and strong working ties with water companies and institutes at home and abroad also played an important part in our CC designation. We see this role as an outstanding opportunity to enhance the visibility and range of our research. Moreover, it facilitates joint work with other CCs at an international level – this includes sharing information, pooling resources and developing technical collaborations.
As a Collaborating Centre our institute conducts the following activities for WHO:
Collect, bundle and disseminate information
Update quality guidelines for drinking water, wastewater and recreational water.
Develop guidelines, a manual and methods related to cyanobacteria toxins.
Organise joint WHO/IWA workshops at International Water Association (Specialist Group) conferences.
Develop evidence-based technical instruments
Implement quantitative microbial risk assessment as part of WHO guidelines on drinking water quality, safe water and water reuse, including the development of practical tools for special target groups.
Provide specialist training and schooling in microbial and chemical water quality and risk assessment
Provide training in the use of tools related to QMRA and health objectives.
Provide training in the supervision of (drinking) water quality, through the design, prioritisation and monitoring of programmes, without loss of laboratory capacity.
Function as a test laboratory for Household Water Treatment (HWT) technologies
HWT technologies are water treatment systems aimed at reducing diarrhoea-related infant mortality in developing countries. KWR and the American NSF are the only HWT system test laboratories for WHO. This is a reflection of the high quality of our facilities. Our work includes establishing protocols, extending experience in the implementation of specialist methods, testing the effectiveness of HWT technologies, and reporting the results to WHO.
Provide assistance in water-related disease outbreaks and epidemics
Provide technical assistance and implement specific knowledge and expertise – for example, tracing contamination sources, setting up treatment units for Ebola patients, identifying failings in systems, and taking responsibility for the elaboration of improvement measures.
Stronger profile for Dutch water sector
By operating in the large international WHO context, the Dutch water sector strengthens its profile and involvement in global water policy and regulation. WHO’s objective is the attainment by all people in the world of the highest possible level of health. To this end, the organisation sets policy norms and standards, for example, for water. It collects specialist knowledge and translates it for world water practice. This is precisely the area in which KWR has a lot to offer: we have extensive experience in bridging science to practice. With our research results, WHO can help national governments make the right choices. And suppliers whose products are tested against international standards by a WHO Collaborating Centre can acquire strong market positions.