Wednesday, December 13, 2017

World Vision seeks a Senior WaSH Director

World Vision is seeking applicants for a Senior Director for WASH.   This position provides strategic leadership and direction for the WASH field operations globally and ensures that the performance meets sector standards and commitments to donors.  The Senior Director also has a role in building operational effectiveness and reputation, creating partnerships and leading the use of innovative approaches.  
World Vision is a global Christian humanitarian organization. It partners with children, families, and their communities to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.

The location of this position is continental Africa, with the specific location in Africa negotiable.

A full job description and the link for applicants to apply can be found here.

Conference is a big success!

The OU WaTER Center hosted its 5th biennial University of Oklahoma International WaTER Conference on September 18-19, 2017. The conference, themed "A Decade of Progress - A Vision for the Future", was particularly special, as it was the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the biennial WaTER Conference and OU International Water Prize cycles. 

Participants mingle and chat between sessions.

One hundred and thirty-five WaSH experts and students from academia, industry, non-governmental organizations, governments and foundations representing 21 countries and 21 US states, converged in Norman, Okla. for the event. The Conference included 68 contributed oral and 21 poster presentations addressing a full suite of water related topics, such as social entrepreneurship, behavior change, water and sanitation technologies, climate change, gender and social equity and water reuse in the developing world. Five keynote speakers were our distinguished guests. Other activities included a panel discussion, an educational K-12 Clean Water Poster Contest for local school children, and a new poster contest for undergraduate and graduate students.

A panel of experts and practitioners discuss the overlap of water challenges in Oklahoma and the developing world.

Making our conference even more exciting was that all the past OU Water Prize winners returned to honor the current prize winner, present keynote addresses at the conference, and join in a panel discussion at the conference banquet.

A panel of past Water Prize winners was a highlight of the conference banquet.

Finally, five post-conference workshops were offered on social entrepreneurship and hydrological remote sensing (led by OU students and faculty), as well as various hands-on technical field methods demonstrations, well-drilling courses and tours (led by local partners). Through generous sponsorship (see subsequent pages), we hosted an estimated 46 participants.

These seventeen travel scholarship recipients come from all across the globe.

Seventeen (17) WASH experts from developing countries were provided travel scholarships that covered the full expense of their travel, registration, and accommodations during the conference. This group included participants from Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa and Thailand. In addition to the numerous international guests, the conference also hosted many individuals from the local OU community, 32 of whom were students.
Participants engage in lively discussion at the poster session and contest.

Eric Stowe receives 5th Water Prize

The highlight of this year's Conference was the awarding of the 2017 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize to Mr. Eric Stowe of Splash. Eric delivered the banquet plenary address entitled “Urban WASH; Using Schools as the Beachhead to Lasting Change". Splash a nonprofit organization, based in Seattle, that delivers safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs to more than 400,000 children living in urban poverty across Asia and Africa.

Banquet participants are watching the introductory remarks, Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.

In his address, Eric stressed that he is not an engineer. He is, he said, "the most non-technical person in this room". However, Eric showed great knowledge of both the promise and limits of water treatment technology, as well as a keen sense of what works in developing countries from a business standpoint. The pictures and footage of the many schools and orphanages in which his organization has worked are evidence that Splash has developed a sustainable business model, using locally-owned franchises to manage their water-based solutions.

By 2050, 75 percent of the world’s rural poor will be living in cities, Stowe said. The movement represents a global shift. India alone will have 230 million people in its three largest cities by 2050. “These numbers represent an expansion of the world’s poorest people into her cities,” he said. “We’re bordering on explosion.”

Joseph Harroz, Jr., Dean of the OU College of Law, presents the 2017 International Water Prize to Eric Stowe.

Splash was founded by Eric in 2007 to help bring clean water and sanitation to orphanages in China. They have since worked in eight countries and have partnered with local residents to find long-term solutions to the challenges of urban WaSH (water, sanitation, and health). In his talk, Eric spoke of schools as "beachheads", or the logical starting point in densely-populated urban slums where WaSH interventions can take a stable foothold. Splash currently has projects in Nepal, China, India, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Eric gives the plenary address at the Water Prize Banquet on the last night of the Conference.

Eric writes that "There is a middle ground. By establishing citywide programs using poor schools as the beachhead for broader community change, we can bypass the bureaucracy and glacial pace of municipal schemes."

Outreach in the K-12 and college-level poster contests

Students from Kindergarten through 12th grade (public, private, home schooled) were invited to participate in the K-12 poster contest, as a regular feature of our Conference.  All posters, photos, and videos must be original artworks that creatively depict the importance of clean water around the world.

A student walks across the big stage to receive his prize for the K-12 Clean Water Poster Contest.
Winner in the K-2nd Grade Category include the following:

   First Place ($100 gift certificate) - Emersyn Raney. Emersyn is a first-grader from McKinley Elementary School (Norman).

Winners in the 3rd-5th Grade Category include the following:

   First Place ($100 gift certificate) - Alnis Demir 
   Second Place ($50 gift certificate) - Jasper Muehring
   Third Place ($25 gift certificate) - Maggie Ball
Alnis, Jasper, and Maggie are all 5th graders from Terra Verde Discovery School (Norman).  Their teacher is Ms. Angela Reed.

The posters submitted were on display during the Conference.

For the first time ever, we also hosted an undergraduate / graduate academic poster contest. Students were judged based on their poster's overall appearance and content. They were also given a chance to do a 5-minute "elevator talk" that explained their research to the four judges.

Participants discuss student academic research during the poster session.

Undergraduate student winners:

   1st ($100) - Autumn Brown (Clemson University)
   2nd ($75) - Jorge Rodriguez (El Bosque University, Colombia)
   3rd ($50) - Amanda Elmendorf (University of Oklahoma)

Graduate student winners:

   1st ($100) - Rosie Wallace (Southern Methodist University)
   2nd ($75) - Philip Deal (University of Oklahoma)
   3rd ($50) - Pinky Taneja (NEERI, India)

Undergraduate poster winners are announced at the Conference closing.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Humanitarian Ben Fawcett Brings Decades of Experience and Service to the WASH Sector

Environmental health engineer Ben Fawcett has worked in many roles over his more than three decades in the WaSH sector, such as development manager, director, teacher, consultant, researcher, author, mentor, and humanitarian, just to name a few.  He is widely recognized for his work in international development, and particularly his teaching that produced many former students who went on to make significant contributions in the WaSH sector. These activities laid the foundation for his selection to win the 2011 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize. We look forward to welcoming Ben back to Norman.

Ben Fawcett stands beside 'Fawcett Creek'
The following passages from Mr. Fawcett focus on his work since accepting the prize:

What has been the focus of your work since winning the Water Prize:

“Since 2011 I have continued teaching WASH (water supply, sanitation and hygiene) to Masters students on the International WaterCentre Masters program in Integrated Water Management (MIWM) in Brisbane.  I aim to give students a good understanding of both key principles and approaches to all aspects of WASH, and my focus has been on increasing their interest and skills in, and understanding of sanitation and hygiene.  This remains a less-understood area of the water sector and one that needs increased emphasis, particularly in poorer urban areas.  Students continue to come from across the globe with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences and many have gone on to be active in the WASH sector in international development.” 

Ben Fawcett in 2006 with WASH Development students in Southampton, U.K.
Ben retired from coordinating this component of the MIWM program in 2016 but continues to support the teaching.  For the past five years, he has supported and supervised individual student research projects; in in Cambodia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ghana, Laos, Mozambique, Nepal and Thailand focusing on a wide range of WASH subjects. Recently Mr. Fawcett has become involved with two online training courses with the International WaterCentre.
“Firstly, ‘WASH & behavior change’ which introduces concepts of behavior change – so vital in bringing about sustainable improvements in the WASH sector – to professionals in this field.  Secondly, an ‘Introduction to WASH for development’ program, which I developed and ran with a colleague, to introduce the basic, up-to-date principles and processes of WASH in developing communities, to those from all backgrounds interested in a move into this field.  Both courses continue to run at least once a year and attract students from many countries and backgrounds.”

Students learn to make a toilet floor slab
How has the Water Prize facilitated/encouraged your ongoing work?

“Recognition, through the award of the Water Prize, of my work as a teacher, based on extensive practical experience in developing countries, inspiring many of those who studied with me to continue this work, was hugely welcome.  It has encouraged me to continue this work over the past five years and, I believe, encouraged many of my former students to develop their careers in the WASH sector. 
I was very pleased to be able to share the financial award (from the OU International Water Prize) with the Engineers Without Borders, Australia (EWB) Research Program.  Specifically, the funds were used to sponsor a valuable two-day conference in Melbourne in May 2012 to share and discuss approaches and outcomes of several research projects undertaken by EWB students and volunteers, and to help develop future strategies for the Program.”  

The Kolkata slum has a desperate need for improved sanitation and hygiene.
Ben continues to lobby for more work in sustainable development of sanitation and hygiene, particularly in urban slums in developing countries, to find ways to better facilitate behaviour change in sanitation and hygiene practices, and to support those changed behaviours through effective local government systems.  He does so through his teaching, and by authoring numerous publications.

Mr. Fawcett will join us at the 2017 OU International WaTER Conference to help celebrate the current prize recipient Eric Stowe. He will give a keynote speech and participate in a panel discussion at the Water Prize Banquet.