The Awards

The IWA Development Awards recognise excellence, leadership and innovation in the water sector, and aim to encourage the continued contribution to the sustainable management of water in low- and middle-income countries. The IWA Development Award is awarded by a panel of experts, and recognises outstanding contributions to research or practice that has led to demonstrable impact in low- and middle-income countries. It is awarded every two years at the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition.

The award is open to an individual (IWA member or non-member), or representative of an organisation active in the sector. Eligible individuals/organisations can be drawn from practice, academia/science, consultancy, equipment manufacturers, NGOs and civil society, international organisations or government.

The award winners will be announced during the Opening Ceremony of the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition. There are two categories of award, one for practice and one for research:

  • The Water and Development Practice Award celebrates outstanding accomplishments in the practice of forward-thinking applications and solutions to advance clean and safe water and sanitation in low and middle-income countries. These solutions can range from specific technologies and infrastructure to innovative approaches that improve performance, efficiency and sustainability in operations and maintenance. The award also recognises social innovation, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship.
  • The Water and Development Research Award recognises and promotes high-quality, impactful research. Research is the powerhouse of disruptive and breakthrough innovation. This award celebrates research that is challenging existing methods and approaches to create new opportunities in the area of sustainable water and sanitation in low- and middle-income countries. It is open to research of all types, as well as early stage business projects that are not yet market ready.


The Award relates specifically to:

  • Water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resource management initiatives;
  • Technical and/or non-technical innovations and contributions;
  • Initiatives which have demonstrable uptake, impact or influence on practice, policy and thinking;
  • Initiatives that have proven track of results

The contribution is innovative (i.e., bringing unique or new solutions, representing a change or improvement in existing practices) and adaptable, with significant, demonstrable uptake, impact or influence;

Is focused explicitly on, or with clear relevance for, poor communities in low and middle income countries;

Relates to one or more of the following sub-topics: water supply and treatment (drinking water, wastewater), (on-site) sanitation, hygiene and health interventions, water resource management, financing, community engagement, community education, planning, capacity building, regulation/standards, institutional development operation & maintenance, management etc.

Involves significant local planning, management, delivery and engagement.

Qualified nominators

All members of the International Water Association (IWA) are invited to submit nominations for the IWA Water & Development awards

Important: self-nominations will not be accepted.

Selection of Development Award Laureates

The International Water Association is responsible for the selection of the Water and Development Award. IWA appoints a working body, the Jury, which evaluates  and presents a proposal for final candidates. The IWA Board of Directors – Governance Nomination Committee receives the evaluation and decides the awardees.

The jury should every two years alternate.

* Are the nominations made public?

The IWA will not make the nominations public. The restriction concerns the nominees and nominators, as well as investigations and opinions related to the award.

Key dates

15 August


Nominations close






Winner notification




IWA is committed to recognising the special contributions and achievements of its members and water sector professionals, and the invaluable contribution they make to key innovations in water science and management.

2017 Winners

IWA Development Award: Research

This award recognises an outstanding contribution to science which has led to demonstrable impact in low and middle income countries.

Barbara Evans’ research has played a key role in developing effective strategies for securing safe access to water and sanitation, with a sustained attention to poor urban and rural communities. She has been awarded the IWA Water and Development Award for Research for increasing our understanding on community-wide approaches to tackle urban and rural water and sanitation challenges.

IWA Development Award: Practice

This award recognises an outstanding contribution to best practice in water management which has led to demonstrable impact in low and middle income countries.

Marco Antonio Cevallos has shown how management vision can lead water utilities in emerging economies to deliver vastly improved services, even to the poorest in society. He is awarded the IWA Water and Development Award for Practice for instigating a new service paradigm that places greater emphasis on community engagement, resource stewardship, and investment decisions that consider the social, economic and environmental costs.

2015 Winners

IWA Development Award: Practice

Mamadou Dia has played a key role in transforming the water sector in Senegal to be a leader in Africa. Amongst his many notable achievements he was awarded the IWA Development Award for Practice for increasing access to water services, particularly amongst poor communities; improving the quality of water services; and contributing to the International Water Association’s work on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation…

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IWA Development Award: Research

Pay Drechsel was awarded the IWA Water and Development Award for Research for increasing our knowledge on 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. His research has played an important role in developing options for safe wastewater use in countries where treatment capacities are low and informal wastewater use is a common feature of irrigated urban and peri-urban agriculture in support of urban food security.

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