Pay Drechsel wins 2015 IWA Development Award

Stockholm, Oct. 18(Greenpost)–Pay Drechsel, IWMI’s research theme leader for Resource Recovery, Water Quality and Health, has won the 2015 International Water Association’s Development Award for Research, according to news reaching here from Colombo, Sri Lanka.


The award has just been presented at the opening ceremony of the IWA’s Development Congress and Exhibition in Amman, Jordan on Sunday, October 18.


“The award is granted in recognition for Pay’s contributions to science which have led to demonstrable impact in low and middle income countries,” said Ger Bergkamp, Executive Director of IWA. “[He is] an example to the water community in each corner of the globe.”


Drechsel’s research has played an important role in developing options for safe wastewater use in countries where treatment capacities are low and informal wastewater irrigation is common. His studies continue to explore the importance of irrigated urban and peri-urban agriculture for food security in cities.


The award, which is granted every two years, recognizes his long track record in research which has contributed to the development of low-cost safety options along the farm to fork pathway. This work directly supported the World Health Organization’s multi-barrier concept for safe wastewater irrigation, as has been acknowledged by Robert Bos, the former WHO Coordinator of Water, Sanitation and Health.


“This recognition is a fantastic acknowledgment of more than a decade of research,” said Drechsel. “I have been strongly supported in this by my dear colleagues, students and partners, as well as the International Water Management Institute which entrusted me with the task to conceptualize and coordinate our work on water quality, food safety and resource recovery”.


“This Award from the IWA, the largest global association of water professionals, is also very special as most of our work is been carried out in those places where the technical solutions we all prefer to see are not yet in place.”


German by birth, Drechsel graduated as environmental scientist from the University of Bayreuth and started his career as consultant in Africa. He then became as research coordinator for the continent at the International Board of Soil Research and Management (IBSRAM), being first based in Bangkok and then Ghana where he opened the organization’s Africa office. After IWMI incorporated IBSRAM in 2001, Drechsel worked as its sub-regional representative, expanding the number of IWMI staff in Ghana from five to over thirty. In 2005 he became a research division leader. During his 11 years in West Africa, Drechsel comprehensively analyzed the links between rural-urban food demands and the urban footprint. Given the high density of irrigating farmers in and around cities, he was particularly interested in the pollution of water bodies and consequent food safety risks. This work influenced legislation in Ghana including national strategies, development plans and policies, as well as several international water reuse guidelines and their supplements produced by WHO, FAO and USEPA/USAID. His work on safe wastewater management was also one of several highlights cited in 2012 award of the Stockholm Water Prize to the International Water Management Institute.

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