2022 UNC Water and Health Conference: Science, Policy, and Practice open for proposals for abstracts, side events, plenaries, and the technology showcase session

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for abstracts, side events, plenaries, and the technology showcase session for the 2022 UNC Water and Health Conference: Science, Policy, and Practice. The Conference will take place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina from October 24 – 28, 2022. 

Since its founding in 2009, the goal of the Water Institute at UNC has been to inform the way the world works on water, sanitation and hygiene issues by generating the evidence that drives improvements in both practice and policy. Through this period, the Water Institute has remained steadfast in its commitment to improving public health by achieving universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services that are safe, affordable and sustainable – particularly for the most marginalized. The annual UNC Water and Health Conference is intended to advance these goals by creating a space where policymakers, practitioners and researchers can gather to review the evidence, interrogate the science and improve old and develop new approaches to expanding WaSH access.

The 2021 Water and Health Conference was a landmark event bringing together stakeholders from 122 countries around the world with more than 3,700 people registering to attend the week-long event. See all videos from our October 2021 conference.

The 2022 Conference will continue to explore the latest learnings around WaSH. The event will include plenaries, side events, verbal presentations and poster presentations. Plenaries will be an opportunity to explore critical themes emerging in 2021. Side events will be collaborative learning experiences focused on new and emerging practices. Verbal and poster presentations will focus on emerging research.

View Sessions Overview (PDF)

How to Write a Successful Abstract for the UNC Water and Health Conference

To present your research in the most effective way, and to increase your chances of having your abstract accepted please refer to the abstract submission rubric. These criteria will be used by peer reviewers to select the abstracts for the verbal and poster presentations. 

Your abstract should briefly explain the importance and novelty of the research, be accurate and succinct, and readable. Keep it short and to the point (500 words): 

  • What (i.e. the focus): Clearly explain your idea or question your work addresses. 
  • Why (i.e., the purpose): Explain why your focus is important. 
  • How (i.e., methods): Describe how you collected information/data to answer your question. 
  • Results: Share your results–the information you collected. What does the data say? 
  • Conclusion: State your conclusion(s) by relating your data to your original question. Discuss the connections between your results and the problem. If your project is still ‘in progress’ and you don’t yet have solid conclusions, use this space to discuss what you know at the moment (i.e., lessons learned so far, emerging trends, etc). 


Do you find it helpful to review an example of a technical document before you create one on your own? If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out the short tutorial videos we have created to guide you in the abstract writing process. This is a highly competitive review process, and these tutorials are intended to help you strengthen your abstract.

Abstract writing tutorial, part 1 

Abstract writing tutorial, part 2:

If you are interested in receiving one-on-one personalized assistance with your abstract before you submit it for review, 
please fill out this form.

We are offering a live, virtual abstract writing workshop session in the coming months open to anyone submitting abstracts for the conference. Participants will be able to drop in and ask questions – and possibly learn from others’ questions. Check back here in the coming weeks for more information on this.

You can view a list of the most highly rated abstracts for last year’s 2021 Water and Health Conference here

Guidelines for Submitting Abstracts 

  • Abstracts must be received by the deadline of May 2, 2022
  • Abstracts must be submitted via the online forms (see buttons at top of this page)
  • Abstracts are limited to 500 words
  • Title of abstracts is limited to 15 words
  • Submissions must include key learning objectives for your presentation. Please include key learning objectives in the ‘Full Abstract Submission’ question on the form
  • Submissions must include abstract themes. Please select up to 3 applicable themes on the form
  • Incomplete abstracts cannot be reviewed
  • Multiple abstracts submitted on a single study will be rejected
  • Submit original work only

Abstract Review Criteria (for all research submissions) 

  • Submissions will be ranked through double-blinded peer review
  • Each abstract will be evaluated based on the degree to which it: 
  • Presents an original argument (not only a descriptive account of a project)
  • Offers a clear rationale, intellectual-grounding, and outcome/payoff for the presentation (i.e., “so what”), including practical advice on best practices or tools that can be implemented by people in the community
  • Is clear and well written. Abstracts should be free from spelling and grammatical errors. Where appropriate, background, methods, results, and conclusions should be clear. For all abstracts, the topic and key learning objectives should be obvious
  • Acceptance will be based on content, available space, and overall program balance. 

Abstract Acceptance/Rejection Notification 

  • Notification regarding acceptance or rejection will be sent to the presenting author by email by mid-June 2022, so providing an accurate email address is critical.
  • If your abstract is accepted, you will receive an email that specifies whether it is accepted as a verbal or poster presentation.
  • You must RSVP by the date specified. Abstracts are withdrawn if your RSVP is not received by the specified date.

Conference Session Formats 

  • Verbal presentations are assigned in 20-minute increments (15 minutes to present with 5 minutes for questions). Length and format are subject to change.
  • Verbal presentations should present original arguments.
  • Abstracts that are simply project descriptions will not be accepted.
  • Poster presentations are assigned and presented in a reception style format. If the Conference is hosted virtually, you will be required to pre-record your presentation and be present for a scheduled live Q&A session.

Selecting Preferred Presentation Format 

Please select the formats in which you are willing to present/publish your presentation at the time of abstract submission. This choice cannot be changed after the review committee has made its final decision (i.e., if you are not willing to present a verbal, please choose poster only). 

  • Submitted abstracts will be considered eligible for either one verbal or one poster presentation. 
  • Authors select one of three options: 

· 1) Verbal Presentation (will NOT be considered for poster)

· 2) Poster Presentation (will NOT be considered for verbal regardless of score)

· 3) Verbal or Poster Presentation (will be considered for either verbal OR poster based on score) 

Please note that declining to have your abstract considered for poster presentation does not improve the chance of being accepted for a verbal presentation. This option should be selected primarily by authors not willing/able to present a poster. 

Responsibilities of the Presenting Author 

  • The first author listed for each abstract serves as the presenting author and as the primary contact for all correspondence regarding the abstract. 
  • The presenting author must be one of the co-authors listed on the submitted abstract. 
  • The presentation at the conference must reflect the submitted abstract. Specifically, the abstract title, authorship, and scientific content must match the submitted abstract. 

Awards for Abstracts on Sanitation Workers

The Water Institute at UNC and the Initiative for Sanitation Workers are pleased to announce the second edition of the Research Awards on Sanitation Workers at the 2022 UNC Water and Health Conference.  This year we will award prizes in two categories: 

Best Original Research Abstract  Best Published Paper (since 4 May 2021) 

Full information about these awards and the review process is available here. You can view the 2021 award winners here.

NEW for 2022: Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development Special Edition Abstracts Opportunity

We are pleased to announce that new for 2022, Water Institute will be partnering with Journal of Water, Sanitation, Hygiene & Development. The best abstracts submitted for the Water and Health Conference will be invited to provide a full journal submission for a special edition of JWASHD linked to the 2022 Water and Health Conference. Please check the box in the abstract submission form if you are interested in participating in this special program.

Technology Showcase

We are pleased to offer this well-received special session again at the 2022 conference. The Technology Showcase features a set of 4-5 minutes presentations highlighting WASH-related technology and innovations in a special session format open to any conference participant. There is time for Q/A and interaction with the audience. Check out last year’s session here

We invite proposals for 2022 Technology Showcase sessions. Abstracts are due by August 1, 2022, and we will inform you by end of June 2022 if you are invited for a full presentation of your technology or innovation.

2022 Water and Health Conference FAQ

What is the abstracts submission period?
All abstracts for this year’s conference are being accepted between February 7 – May 2, 2022.

When will abstracts be reviewed?
All abstracts will be reviewed between May – Mid June, 2022.

Who will review the abstracts?
Abstracts are peer-reviewed by research experts in the WASH field.

When will accepted abstract presenters be notified?
Abstract submitters whose abstracts have been selected for presentations at the conference will be notified by late June 2022.

Will the conference be in person this year?
We hope to organize this year’s conference back in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where it has been held for years



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