IWA water and development awards 2023 announced in Kigali, Rwanda

International Water Association (IWA) water and development awards 2023 was presented during the opening ceremony of the IWA Water and Development Congress and Exhibition (IWA – WDCE) on 10 Dec 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.

This year’s awardees are Dr Veena Srinivasan for research, and Dr Doulaye Kone for practice

The awards acknowledge excellence, leadership, and innovation in the water sector, aiming to promote sustainable water management in low- and middle-income countries. A panel of experts judges the awards, recognising contributions to research or practice with demonstrable impact in low- and middle-income countries.

The judges reportedly noted Dr Veena Srinivasan’s bravery and passion in pursuing an emerging knowledge path in socio-hydrology. They also recognised her advocacy for research and the establishment of Water, Environment, Land and Livelihoods (WELL) labs in Bengaluru, India. Dr Srinivasan said, “My work has been recognised for laying the foundations of socio-hydrology as a discipline. My focus on analysing data and triangulation across datasets represents a departure from traditional water resources management methods and has raised awareness of what kind of science is needed to solve India’s water crisis.”

For Dr Kone, the judges highlighted that his career initiated a paradigm shift across the water and sanitation sector. His vision has catalysed technological innovations in non-sewered sanitation through the ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ and brought new approaches to the sustainability of faecal sludge management at scale. Some of Dr Kone’s work has influenced policy and strategies in the sector, emphasising linking market approaches with service provision. Dr Kone said, “I convinced the Gates Foundation to initiate the ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ to generate solutions that can protect against human waste-borne pathogens and deliver a 21st-century inclusive sanitation solution that reaches the poorest communities. This type of climate-resilient sanitation innovation, when combined with proper infrastructure and national action, will enhance public health, foster better gender equality outcomes, and reduce communities’ dependence on water amidst a changing world.”

About the winners

Dr Veena Srinivasan

Dr Srinivasan is a water expert with 20 years of experience, specialising in intersectoral water allocation, impacts of multiple stressors on water resources, and sustainable water management policy and practice. In 2023, she set up WELL labs, a research and innovation centre collaborating with governments, businesses, multilateral institutions, and civil society groups to co-create science-backed solutions. Dr Srinivasan received her PhD from Stanford University and is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. She has won several awards for her work, including the 2015 Jim Dooge award from the European Geophysical Union and the 2012 Water Resources Research Editor’s Choice award from the American Geophysical Union. She chairs the Strategic Advisory group for the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for UN sustainable development goal (SDG) 6 and was the Prins Claus Chair at Utrecht University, the Netherlands from 2018-2020.

Dr Doulaye Kone

Dr Kone supports the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s effort to provide access to safe sanitation to 2.5 billion people currently without it. He is disrupting the decades-long status quo in the developing world sanitation sector by reinventing the toilet and reimagining faecal sludge management business as a utility service. Responsible for the transformative technologies, product development, and commercialisation portfolio, Dr Kone shapes the foundation’s efforts in birthing a new sanitation industry to equitably serve the majority of poor communities in developing countries. With more than 20 years of experience as a sanitation and water specialist, development professional, and lead scientist, Doulaye holds a PhD, MAS in sanitary and environmental engineering, and BSc in physics and chemistry, and a certificate in strategy from the Harvard Business School.

Judging panel

Mara RamosDamir Brdjanovic
Leonardo SanabriaLuiza Campos
Sandhya HaribalRaziyeh Farmani
Arun Kumar SuryakumarXia Huang
Rianna GonzalesNorhayati Abdullah
Perry RiveraTanvir Ahmed
Akissa BahriGrace Oluwasanya
Bécaye Sidy DiopIván Moreno Andrade
Pradip P. Kalbar 
Kiwanuka N. Sonko