The award will be formally given to Martha Gebeyehu during a 2019 the University of Oklahoma International WaTER Conference in September 2019

By Francesca Marinoni (OU Daily) |

A water activist from Ethiopia has been awarded the 2019 International Water Prize from OU’s WaTER, or Water Technologies for Emerging Regions, Center.

Martha Gebeyehu, coordinator for Ethiopia’s Water Expertise and Training Center, received this year’s prize because of her commitment to training people to manage their own water and sanitation, according to a news release.

The prize is given to someone who has made significant water and sanitation improvements to help people in developing countries, said David Sabatini, director of the WaTER Center.

“(Martha) has been very active in doing so in Ethiopia, which is a country (that) has dire need for safe drinking water and sanitation,” Sabatini said. “She has worked together with people to provide water and sanitation to communities and villages, and she has done this in a very effective way of leveraging the collective action of people to make a bigger impact.”

According to the release, Martha Gebeyehu became the first water quality analyst for the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission, implementing safe testing practices and procedures. She developed a laboratory and started the first water quality workshops. Now, as the coordinator of Ethiopia’s Water Expertise and Training Center, she guides projects of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, or WASH.

“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,” Martha said in the press release. “Ultimately, I am dedicated to serving those in need so that they can reach their full potential and well-being.”

According to the release, the 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, according to the release.

“According to the United Nations, there are upwards of 2 billion people that lack access to safe, reliable, drinking water supply, and upwards of 4 billion people in the world that lack adequate sanitation,” Sabatini said. “This prize is meant to recognize and celebrate someone who has made significant contributions to addressing these challenges. We hope that it serves as an example and an inspiration to our students to take on this challenge as well.”

The award will be formally given to Martha Gebeyehu during a 2019 OU International WaTER Conference in September 2019. The conference will also include 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, according to the release.

Source: OU Daily
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