Friday, October 19, 2018

Water activist honored with OU International Water Prize

Martha Gebeyehu, coordinator for Ethiopia’s Water Expertise and Training Centre, was recently named the recipient of the 2019 International Water Prize. A panel of water experts from around the world selected Gebeyehu for her ongoing commitment to empowering and training people to manage their own water and sanitation. 

“Martha is serving some of the world’s poorest in some of the most rural and remote regions of Ethiopia,” said Shauna Curry, chief executive officer of the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. “Her belief in the power of people to bring change to their own homes led to her work in the area of household water treatment. This quickly broadened to the entire area of water, sanitation and hygiene with low-cost technology that people can implement themselves.” 

While pursuing a master’s degree in business administration, Gebeyehu became the first water quality analyst for the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission implementing safe testing practices and procedures. Her growing knowledge, coupled with an eagerness to share her expertise, led her to initiate the development of a laboratory and facilitate the first water quality workshops. She has personally educated and trained over 1,000 individuals for the WET Center. Now she serves as WET Center coordinator, guiding WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene projects from conception and implementing research projects to effectively link government water policy to rural communities. 

“I became interested in working with WASH through a strong understanding of the technical aspects of water quality and a drive to share my knowledge with others,” says Gebeyehu. “Ultimately, I am dedicated to serving those in need so that they can reach their full potential and well-being.” 

Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center, the International Water Prize is one of the first and largest prizes dedicated solely to the field of water supply and sanitation in remote areas of emerging regions. The award-winner is selected through a nomination process and honors an individual that has made significant contributions in these areas, particularly communities in rural or remote regions. 

Gebeyehu will formally receive the OU International Water Prize and give the plenary lecture at the sixth Biennial OU International WaTER Conference, scheduled for Sept. 16-19, 2019. The conference includes local and international speakers, breakout sessions and poster and paper sessions in the fields of social entrepreneurship, behavior change, water technologies, climate change and hydro-philanthropy in the developing world. For more information about the OU International Water Prize and the conference, visit WaTER.ou.edu.

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