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Professor Albert Wright


The Award

Recognizing sanitation and hygiene achievements in Africa - Lifetime Achievement Award - Professor Albert Wright - AfricaSan Awards 2009

Through his work over four decades, Professor Albert Wright has played a significant role in sanitation and water development at global, African and national levels. He has been teacher, researcher, innovator, investment adviser, policy advisor and inspiration and mentor to an entire generation of the African water and sanitation community.

Professor Wright started his career as an academic. He taught at Ghana’s premier engineering university, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi where he rose quickly to become Head of the Civil Engineering Department, Director of Academic and Student Affairs, and Pro Vice-Chancellor. He is credited with setting up the Institute of Mining and Mineral Engineering of the University.

Some 32 years ago, Professor Wright developed the K-VIP latrine (Kumasi VIP latrine), starting from the Reid’s Odorless Earth Closet used in South Africa. It was in course of that development that he coined the term ‘VIP’ latrine which has become part of the vocabulary in sanitation.

Professor Wright was drawn into global sector development ahead of the International Drinking Water and Sanitation Decade (1981-91) when he participated in a seminal World Bank research project on low-cost technologies for excreta disposal which shaped technical options promoted through the Decade and beyond. He was a founder member of the Technology Advisory Group (which subsequently became the Water and Sanitation Program) and was associated with the World Bank for nearly two decades, 11 years as a senior staff member. During this time, he and his TAG colleagues led global thinking in low-cost sanitation, with Professor Wright providing key insights into approaches for Africa. Amongst his many contributions was the concept of strategic sanitation, an approach that advocates the use of both demand and incentives in sanitation service planning and delivery.

Wright has taken on many senior global advisory positions. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Global Sanitation Fund which is managed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. He is also a Senior Advisor to the Global Water Partnership, having previously served as a member of its Technical Committee. He also served for twenty years on the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Environmental Health. In that capacity, he contributed to various expert committees, including those on filariasis and solid waste disposal. At one time Professor Wright was Chairman of the International Management Board of the International Reference Centre (IRC) for Community Water Supply at Rijkwik, the Netherlands. He has been a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the World Water Assessment Program, and a member of the Expert Group on Indicators, Monitoring, and Databases for the Third World Water Development Report. He was the Co-Chair for the Task Force on Water and Sanitation which was set up under the Millennium Project established by the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan

Professor Wright has worked in most African countries at some point in his career. He prepared the “Africa Water Vision 2025” for the African Development Bank, the OAU, and the ECA. He served as Chair of the Africa Water Task Force and, in that capacity, played a leading role in the establishment of the Africa Water Facility for financing water and sanitation programs in Africa – a Facility that is now being managed by the African Development Bank. It was also in that capacity that he helped to organize the Water Dome which showcased the activities and developments of many members of the water sector during the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002. Most recently, as a UNICEF consultant, he provided technical support during the preparation and the running of the first African Union Summit on Water Supply and Sanitation.

Through a career of major achievements, Albert has remained a devout, thoughtful, and caring person. He has the greatest respect from his colleagues as much for his personal qualities as his professional achievements. For a lifetime of commitment, selflessness and outstanding contributions to sanitation in Africa, AMCOW and the AfricaSan Movement are pleased to present to Professor Albert Wright, this Lifetime Achievement Award.

Note:  The award was given on November 9-13, 2009, in Johannesburg, South Africa by the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW), formed in 2002 to encourage policies and cooperation in "security, social and economic' developmental matters among member states.  The purpose of management of water resources and the provision of water supply services for poverty eradication was a key objective in the formation of the group.

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