Oct 26, 2015

Awards Recognize Water, Development Innovators

Recipients were recognized for their contributions to the practice and science of water, which have improved the lives of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries

International Water Association Awards development

Two water innovators have been awarded the 2015 Water and Development Award by the International Water Assn. (IWA). Working to deliver solutions to global water challenges, both have been recognized by the international water community for their contributions to the practice and science of water, which have improved the lives of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries.

Mamadou Dia has played a key role in transforming the water sector in Senegal to be a leader in Africa. Amongst his many notable achievements he is awarded the IWA Development Award for Practice for increasing access to water services, particularly amongst poor communities; improving the quality of water services; and contributing to work on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.

Pay Drechsel’s research has played an important role in developing options for safe wastewater use in countries where treatment capacities are low, and informal wastewater use is a common feature of irrigated urban and peri-urban agriculture in support of urban food security. He has been awarded the IWA Development Award for Research for increasing our knowledge on low-cost safety options along the farm to fork pathway.

“These awards are granted in recognition for contributions to the science and practice of water, which have led to demonstrable impact in low and middle income countries,” said Dr. Ger Bergkamp, executive director of IWA. “Mamadou and Pay are examples to the water community around the globe.”

As managing director of Senegalese water utility, Sénégalaise Des Eaux, Dia has shown that innovation in water utilities, including private sector participation, in African countries can be a force for delivering vastly improved services, even to the poorest in society. Sénégalaise Des Eaux has developed pro-poor programs to ensure access to water. This was critical in ensuring Senegal is among the few African countries achieving the Millennium Development Goals for water.

“Receiving the IWA Award is recognition of all the efforts that have been made to prove that in Africa, despite the difficult environment, it is possible to have performing water companies that meet the expectations of customers and institutional partners,” Dia said. “I share the award with all water stakeholders in Senegal and in Africa, with whom we have developed synergies to make progress in order to improve the rate of access and the quality of water services.”

Aware of the constraints that low-income countries face, Drechsel’s research has been geared towards locally appropriate solutions. During 11 years in West Africa, he comprehensively analyzed the links between rural-urban food demands and the urban footprint. Given the high density of irrigating farmers in and around cities, he was particularly interested in the pollution of water bodies and options to mitigate the consequent food safety risks. His work has contributed to the formulation of numerous national and international laws, policies, frameworks and guidelines.

“This recognition is a fantastic acknowledgment of more than a decade of research,” Drechsel said. “I have been strongly supported in this by my dear colleagues, students and partners, as well as the International Water Management Institute which entrusted me with the task to conceptualize and coordinate our work on water quality, food safety and resource recovery.”