Contributing to low & middle-income countries
Initiatives focusing on resource recovery in lower and middle-class incomes countries and rainwater harvesting in vulnerable dry regions have won IWA’s 2019 Development Awards.
Celebrating excellence in research and practice in water and sanitation, the two award winners included Dr Miriam Otoo and Mr Sikandarsab Meeranaik.
Announced at the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition in Colombo, Sri Lanka, this year’s awards attracted 74 award peer nominations from 29 countries.
Nominated candidates were invited to make submissions on the direct and indirect impact and the innovative nature of their work, emphasising contributions to poor communities in low and middle-income countries.
The winners received the awards and certificates by the honourable Vasudeva Nanayakkara, State Minister Urban Development, Housing & Water Supply of Sri Lanka, and Diane D'Arras, IWA President.
Going beyond technical challenges of water reuse
Dr Otoo is Research Group Leader – Resource Recovery and Reuse at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka.
Her research work in the area of resource recovery and reuse (RRR), with a focus on business models that work for low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), was considered by the Award jury as being crucial to the progress of the sector.
Dr Otoo’s work goes beyond addressing the technical challenges of RRR and has influenced policy and adoption in international guidelines in LMIC.
The scientific rigour, the real case studies that demonstrate the application of RRR business models, and the innovative approach to RRR in LMIC, together with the policy influence of the work developed, were the main supporting reasons for the jury’s unanimous decision.
Dr Otoo said that while technical options are available in developing countries, workable business models that form “functional public-private partnerships” can help achieve sustainable sanitation and water management.
Rainwater harvesting recharge systems
Meeranaik is the CEO of the Sankalpa Rural Development Society and started a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that installs rainwater harvesting recharge systems in bore wells in rural India.
The low-cost technology implemented in extremely vulnerable dry regions was considered to epitomise the spirit of the IWA Development Award – Practice.
The business model incentivises the transfer of funds from companies to farmers, having a strong direct impact in the communities served, as well as contributing to the maintenance of food production in times of drought.
To date, Meeranaik has implemented the system across India, in over 1,500 bore wells.
“All my working life has been focused on how to save rainwater for a better tomorrow,” said the CEO.
“This award will help me and my team to spread our technology of rainwater harvesting throughout India and to scale up to reach those who are also in need in the wider world."