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Kirschke, S., Avellán, T., Bärlund, I. et al. Capacity challenges in water quality monitoring: understanding the role of human development. Environ Monit Assess 192, 298 (2020).

Capacity challenges in water quality monitoring: understanding the role of human development

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Author: Kirschke, Sabrina1; Avellán, Tamara1; Bärlund, Ilona2;
Organizations: 1United Nations University - Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES), Dresden, Germany
2Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Magdeburg, Germany
3University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
4UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Penicuik, UK
5University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
6International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka
7IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, Netherlands
8Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands
9Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2023-03-08


Monitoring the qualitative status of freshwaters is an important goal of the international community, as stated in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) indicator 6.3.2 on good ambient water quality. Monitoring data are, however, lacking in many countries, allegedly because of capacity challenges of less-developed countries. So far, however, the relationship between human development and capacity challenges for water quality monitoring have not been analysed systematically. This hinders the implementation of fine-tuned capacity development programmes for water quality monitoring. Against this background, this study takes a global perspective in analysing the link between human development and the capacity challenges countries face in their national water quality monitoring programmes. The analysis is based on the latest data on the human development index and an international online survey amongst experts from science and practice. Results provide evidence of a negative relationship between human development and the capacity challenges to meet SDG 6.3.2 monitoring requirements. This negative relationship increases along the course of the monitoring process, from defining the enabling environment, choosing parameters for the collection of field data, to the analytics and analysis of five commonly used parameters (DO, EC, pH, TP and TN). Our assessment can be used to help practitioners improve technical capacity development activities and to identify and target investment in capacity development for monitoring.

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Series: Environmental monitoring and assessment
ISSN: 0167-6369
ISSN-E: 1573-2959
ISSN-L: 0167-6369
Volume: 192
Article number: 298
DOI: 10.1007/s10661-020-8224-3
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
Funding: Open Access funding provided by Projekt DEAL.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit