Monday, August 27, 2018

Sally Sutton - specialist in rural water supply

Sally Sutton is a consultant and practitioner in rural water supply, focusing particularly on sustainability of supplies from both technical and socioeconomic perspectives.  In the 1970’s she undertook doctoral research into hydro-geochemistry at Oxford University and four years research on the hydrogeology and socio-economy of traditional groundwater supplies (aflaj) in Oman. She then moved into the real world as a hydrogeologist, spending ten years with consulting engineers on wellfield development, groundwater recharge systems and digital modelling in various parts of the Middle East. 
A Zambian family invests for themselves, an example of self-supply.

Moving on to work in Africa, she worked under the advisement of the Zambian Department of Water Affairs.  While planning, supervising and monitoring rural water supplies (but including hands- on well-drilling) for the Western Province, and evaluating other donor projects around the country , she became interested in the people being left unserved or badly-served by the conventional rural water supplies she was helping to construct. With the Zambian government and with DFID funding, she ran a large three year project to encourage communities and households to develop and progressively up-grade their own supplies. As a result she was asked by RWSN to initiate and coordinate the Self-supply theme (2003-2011) and to introduce the concept to other countries. This has meant moving increasingly towards planning and policy development . However that is combined with a satisfying privilege of being able to see what is really happening on the ground and advocate for change directly, with policy makers in government and non-government organisations in 16 sub-Saharan countries, with support from UNICEF, the World Bank and NGOs. 
A small group in Zambia which improved their own spring catchment.
Her particular interest is the interface between social and technical aspects of water supply, specifically how better to knit the priorities and skills of households into the wider context of rural water supply strategies and policies.
Madame Diabate’s well and rope pump in Senegal, shared with all her neighbors and held together with strips of rubber.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Water and sanitation specialist, Shauna Curry

The WaTER Center is proud to welcome Shauna Curry to serve as one of the WaTER Symposium jurors who will select the 2019 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize recipient. Shauna is a Professional Engineer who joined the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) in 2004 and assumed the role of CEO in 2011. During her tenure, Shauna led the development and expansion of CAWST's service delivery from two countries to its current network of 5000 clients in 194 countries.

Shauna Curry

CAWST clients access services through three platforms (CAWST, WET Centres, and Virtual Services), reaching 14.9 million people with better water or sanitation. CAWST builds upon local knowledge and skills with household solutions that people can implement themselves. A hybrid organization, CAWST is both a licensed professional engineering consultancy and a registered Canadian charity.

Prior to CAWST, Shauna worked in environmental engineering. She traces her interest in humanitarian work to her parents and a solo-odyssey from Alberta to Argentina by bicycle, which solidified her passion and desire to make a real and lasting difference in the world and to do so through water. 

The WaTER Symposium will be held on Wednesday, October 10 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom at the Oklahoma Memorial Union on the Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma.  The Symposium and banquet are free and open to the public.  To register for the event, go to

Social entrepreneur and development specialist, Chris Dunston

We are pleased to welcome Chris Dunston to Norman this October to join the stellar group of water and sanitation professionals who will choose the next University of Oklahoma International Water Prize recipient.

Chris is currently the Senior Program Officer, International Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation where he leads the Safe Water Strategy priority. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation aims to accelerate access to safe, reliable and affordable water services for communities, health facilities and schools in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia and Uganda.  The strategies focus on development partners – government, private sector and civil society – to collaborate more effectively with one another to design, test and implement different approaches for systems strengthening and water service delivery to all residents at the district level.  

Chris started his career in development 30 years ago as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer assisting women’s groups in Isiolo, Kenya to start businesses. This eye opening experience led Chris to earn a Master’s in Public Health, going on to work for CARE USA for about ten years. Here he held a variety of positions focused on household livelihood security in Bangladesh, Sudan and Madagascar. 

Prior to joining the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Chris lived in Madagascar for more than a decade as an entrepreneur. During this time, he started businesses that included managing a clinical trial for the treatment and diagnosis of human plague in 40 rural health care facilities with the Ministry of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions through a grant from the National Institute of Health.  Chris established several public-private partnerships with rural municipal governments for water resource management and service delivery, and microscopy services in health care facilities.  He also owned and operated a specialty business that grew, processed, and marketed Madagascan coffee that was exported through a direct farmer-to-market relationship with clients and retail outlets throughout the country.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Melinda Laituri - Ecosystems and Geospatial Technology

The WaTER Center is proud to welcome Dr. Melinda Laituri to serve on the selection committee to choose the 2019 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize winner.  As part of the WaTER Symposium to be held October 10, Melinda will also be part of a panel discussion on "Critical Water and Sanitation Issues in Today's World".
Dr. Melinda Laituri

Dr. Laituri is a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University. She holds a PhD in geography from the University of Arizona, with her other degrees in hydrology (MA, California State University, 1985) and geography (BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1979). 

Melinda’s research has spanned several geographic locales, beginning with her dissertation in the American southwest and along the US-Mexico border that focused on environmental equity and groundwater resources.  Since then, she has worked with indigenous peoples around the world on issues related to managing water and natural resources, using geographic information systems (GIS) while utilizing cultural and eco-physical data in her research models.  A key focus involves using GIS to aid those locally affected in developing the information and strategies necessary for sustainability and self-management.

Social and environmental justice is a key focus in much of Dr. Laituri's research.

Other research interests have focused on the role of the Internet and geospatial technologies as they pertain to disaster management and cross-cultural environmental histories of managing river basins. “Water, ecosystems, and sustainability are inextricably linked across multiple scales.  I am keenly interested in the intersections and boundaries of human activities, physical processes, and ecosystems.” All Melinda’s work relates to solving water issues, social and environmental justice, and tracking the global policy initiatives with respect to this. She enjoys teaching, considering it one of the greatest privileges and challenges of being a professor.  “We are truly seeing the influence of geography in everyday life! This is an exciting place to be at this juncture in addressing and solving complex environmental issues.”
A Fulbright Scholar, a Rachel Carson Fellow, and a Jefferson Science Fellow, Melinda is the currently director of the Geospatial Centroid at CSU.  A former National Science Foundation program officer in the Geography and Spatial Sciences program, she now works with the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the US Department of State on the Secondary Cities Initiative, and is affiliated with the Colorado Water Institute and the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis.