Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Record Number of Travel Scholarships Given for Conference

This year we are pleased to announce that we are giving 25 - a record number! - of scholarships for international guests to travel to our WaTER Conference in the Fall. We have already notified the recipients, and they are working on visa applications and other travel documents now.

Participants in the 2013 Conference visit with our Prize winner, Ada Oko-Williams.
This year's scholarship awardees are coming from 12 different countries - India (8), Ethiopia (3), Kenya (3), Bangladesh (2), Pakistan (2), Namibia, Colombia, Nigeria, Uganda, the Philippines, Ecuador, and Nepal.  They will be giving presentations on everything from grey water treatment to the effects of climate change on water resources. They come from universities (e.g., National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan), NGOs (e.g., MAP International), and research institutes (e.g., NEERI in India). But, most of all, they bring with them a unique set of experiences from all corners of the world.

Travel scholarship recipients from the last Conference, Fall 2013

Native American dancers entertain the participants at the 2013 Water Conference prize banquet.

The participation of international practitioners and researchers is a very important component of our Conference. We value the exchange of information and culture that this component offers, and so we are grateful for the individual and corporate sponsors who have made these scholarships possible.

We look forward to welcoming all of our guests - from places both near and far away!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rural Water Supply Specialist to Highlight Capacity-Building

Kerstin Danert is a rural water supply specialist focusing on developing in-country capacity with respect to operation and maintenance, cost-effective borehole drilling, technology adoption and sector performance monitoring. Thus, her expertise comes literally "from the ground up"! We are pleased and excited to have Kerstin as one of our keynote speakers at this year's International WaTER Conference.

Kerstin's work has involved integrating institutional, socio-economic, cultural, political and technical aspects of rural water supply service provision in developing countries. She has provided face to face advisory and capacity development services to national and local Governments, NGOs and the private sector in over 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well remote support for many more. Her current email listserve is a treasure-house of good advice from practitioners in the field.

Kerstin lived and worked in Uganda for ten years up to 2008, when she moved to Switzerland to join Skat, an independent Swiss organization, to work in the fields of development and humanitarian aid. Since 2009, she has led the secretariat of the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN), a global network of professionals and practitioners working to develop sustainable rural water supplies.

A survey of 81 WASH experts by the charity navigation website, Philanthropedia, has placed RWSN seventh (7th) in the list of most effective non-profit organizations - and the top network.  "Experts respect RWSN as a forum for discussion for 6,000 water professionals; a setting for knowledge exchange and networking. The RWSN is also useful as a resource that allows its member organizations to view the best practices of peer organizations and adopt them in their own. RWSN also provides guides to its member organizations providing tips regarding development." (from the organization's website: We look forward to welcoming Kerstin as an integral part of our Conference.
 WaSH practitioners and local villagers work together to install a pump system and learn how to operate and maintain it.

Video Contest Added to K-12 Clean Water Poster Contest

The WaTER Center, in conjunction with the biennial OU International WaTER Conference, sponsors a K-12 Clean Water Poster Contest to help bring awareness to global water and sanitation issues to the younger members of our community.  All K-12 students (public, private and home schooled) attending school in Norman or surrounding areas are invited to participate.

This year, a new video element has been added to the contest.  All grade 9th to 12th high school students (public, private and home schooled), can use their film-making talents to create an original video that depicts the importance of clean water around the world.  Entries should be artistic and positive in approach, and creatively illustrate the global need for clean water for human society and/or the natural environment.  The short video clip (maximum of three minutes in length) can portray any aspect of water – its uses, value, challenges, etc., in the United States or any international country.  Artists can use animation, cartoons, people, animals – be creative!

The top three winning videos will be incorporated into the 2015 OU International Water Conference, to be held in Norman, OK, Sept. 21 through 23, 2015.  First place winner will receive $200, second place, $100, and third place, $50.  Winners will be recognized, and receive their prizes at the closing ceremony of the conference.