Friday, November 20, 2015

WaSH Experts Gather at the 2015 OU International WaTER Conference

WaSH representatives from more than 21 countries gathered together in Norman, Oklahoma for the fourth biennial University of Oklahoma International WaTER Conference hosted by the OU WaTER Center.  Nearly 170 people from multiple disciplines were attracted to the conference, held September 21-23, with the common goal of addressing the global water crisis.
Attendees enjoyed two full days of oral and poster presentations at the conference  
The conference theme, “Off the Grid:  Sustainable Water and Sanitation in a Non-Networked World”, included water and sanitation experts from industry, NGOs, governments, foundations and academia.  Oral and poster sessions, which were offered for two full days, addressed an array of water related topics, such as behavior and behavioral change, gender and social equity, social entrepreneurship, climate change effects, capacity building, conservation and reuse technologies, assessment and health interventions, fluoride and arsenic mitigation, technical innovation and design, and much more. 

A record number of international travel scholarship recipients were sponsored for the 2015 conference
Twenty-six (26) international travel scholarships, from twelve developing countries, were sponsored to attend and participate in the conference activities.  Besides a host of social and networking opportunities, the International WaTER Conference offered five significant keynote speeches from leading WaSH professionals, an interactive poster session, an authentic Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, an educational student youth outreach art contest, and a panel discussion on Climate-Water-Energy-Food Nexus.
Climate-Water-Energy-Food Nexus:  Challenges and Opportunities Across Sectors was the theme for the panel discussion

Serving on the panel was Dr. Emmanouil Anagnostou (University of Connecticut), Dr. Yang Hong (University of Oklahoma), Dr. Pawan Labhasetwar (NEERI), Mr. Kenneth Ochoa (Universidad El Bosque), and Dr. Afreen Siddiqi (MIT/Harvard).

Field Methods Workshop attendees try a hands-on-water-well drilling method

In addition to the varied side activities, two post-conference workshops were hosted.  One was a Field Methods workshop featuring hands-on displays of appropriate technologies, such as sustainable pump technology, water-well drilling methods (manual and hydraulic), ecolatrine design, household water treatment systems, and biosand filters.  The second workshop, Social Entrepreneurship, conducted by OU's Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, featured a valuable hands-on opportunity for participants to work in teams developing a model business plan for a social innovation and entrepreneurship venture.

Peter Lochery delivers his plenary lecture at the WaTER Conference Banquet
Highlighting the conference was a formal banquet on Monday evening.  Attendees heard a plenary lecture given by Peter Lochery, CARE Director of Water.  Prior to his lecture, Peter was presented with the 2015 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize.  Congratulations Peter! 

The fifth biennial OU International WaTER Conference is scheduled to be held Sept. 18-20, 2017.