Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fawcett Wins 2011 OU International Water Prize

The 2011 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize was presented to Mr. Ben Fawcett, co-author of the milestone book The Last Taboo: Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis, on October 24, 2011 at the OU International WaTER Conference Banquet by Dr. Berrien Moore, III. Following the presentation of the award, Mr. Fawcett delivered a plenary address to conference attendees entitled "Another 'Great Stink' is Needed: Sanitation and Hygiene in Poor Urban Areas," which emphasized the importance of improved sanitation for public health and the global economy.

The purpose of the OU International Water Prize is to recognize and honor an individual who has made significant international contributions through research, teaching or service activities in the field of water supply and sanitation with a focus on the world's poorest living in small villages/communities in rural or remote regions. It is a biennial award sponsored by the WaTER Center at the University of Oklahoma and made possible by generous gifts from alumni and friends. In 2009 and 2011, the winner received a $25,000 cash reward.

The winner is selected by a committee of five jurors, all notable WASH professionals in their own right, a year before the Prize is awarded. The jurors each propose a nominee and present his/her accomplishments. The jurors then use a positive elimination process to hone in on the one individual who best meets the criteria for the Prize.

Jurors for the 2011 WaTER Prize Winner included:
  • Robert Adamski - V.P. for Municipal Infrastructure Programs, Gannett Fleming
  • Diana Betancourt - Regional Manager for Central America, Water for People
  • Jean McCluskey - former Global WASH Cluster Manager for UNICEF
  • James Mihelcic - Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida
  • Feleke Zewge - Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Mr. Fawcett is the second recipient of the OU International Water Prize. He is an environmental health engineer, development practitioner, speaker, mentor, researcher, and author with three decades of extensive international experience. He has assisted many non-governmental organizations (e.g., Oxfam, Red Cross, Water Aid, Save the Children, and Engineers without Borders) and governments in the participatory planning, implementation and evaluation of development, humanitarian, and emergency relief programs related to water and sanitation.

Fawcett’s impact has been felt in countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. During his tenure at Southampton University from 1996-2006 he mentored 130 MSc and Ph.D. students who have continued through their work to impact over 60 countries. He has focused a significant part of his writing on gender and sanitation, two issues often forgotten and yet critical if the world is to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is his leadership and vision in coauthoring with Maggie Black the milestone book, The Last Taboo:Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis, the release of which was timed with the 2008 International Year of Sanitation.

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