AfricaSan Awards 2009
AMCOW AfricaSan Awards
Recognizing sanitation and hygiene achievements in Africa
Technical Innovation Award
Dr Peter Morgan
For over four decades, Dr Peter Morgan, a Zimbabwean, has provided Africa with the most innovative technical ideas in sanitation and hygiene directly affecting poor people.
Dr Morgan began his career as a marine biologist, before moving to land-locked Malawi and later his adopted country, Zimbabwe. In the dark-days of war in Rhodesia in the 1970s, Peter began a series of practical experiments in fly control which resulted in an outpouring of ideas in water and sanitation management. By the time of Zimbabwe’s Independence and the resurgence of its economy in the 1980, Peter had invested, tested and piloted a huge variety of low-cost approaches to water, sanitation and hygiene, starting from USD$5 options to grand robust structures.
Amongst his many ground-breaking inventions, perhaps the most impactful was his development of the Ventilated Improved Pit-latrine (VIP - the most commonly accepted low-cost technology in use in Africa), known in Zimbabwe as the Blair Latrine. Much of Peter’s work was undertaken at the Blair Research laboratory, where he developed an extraordinary relationship with the Environmental Health Department of the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health, which enabled scientific ideas to be tested, amended, piloted, and then through training programmes disseminated throughout the country.
Dr Morgan was never satisfied with any of his inventions and kept breaking new ground. Low-cost sanitation options were designed for schools, farmers, the urban poor, clinics, children, girls, women, the aged, and the disabled. He has also adapted the technology to work with an amazing range of locally available materials and his work has had an impact in virtually every African country, but especially in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Dr Morgan has been a pivotal figure in global thinking about ecological approaches to sanitation adapted for African conditions. The most well known of these are the Arborloo and the Fossa Alterna. Peter was never attracted to the cult dimension of the ecosan movement, but saw the scientific possibilities in nutrient re-use and was able to offer simple, highly practical solutions to conceptually complex ideas. These are now being taking up in increasing numbers, in Africa and the world over, and are amongst the most practical and affordable, ecologically- sound sanitation solutions available to poor people. Dr Morgan has also pioneered many innovative low-cost hand-washing aids for use after going to the toilet. These include the tippy tap, and many other devices, using locally available materials.
Tens of millions of Africans have benefited from his sanitation work. The impact of his work has been to save thousands of lives and prevent millions of episodes of sanitation and hygiene-related illness.
Dr Morgan is the most deserving recipients of the AfricaSan Technical Innovation Award. He has worked selflessly, quietly behind the scenes and has never sought recognition or profit from his brilliant inventions. The patents for all his work were given to the Government of Zimbabwe. He has approached this life work in the most humble of manners, giving his ideas away freely, eschewing all offers to work for the big development agencies, committed to solutions for the poor, firmly believing that the only way forward is for Africa to find its own solutions to its own challenges.
For a lifetime of commitment, selflessness and outstanding contributions to sanitation in Africa, AMCOW and the AfricaSan Movement are pleased to present to Dr Peter Morgan, this Technical Innovation Award.