Sanitation icon retires: Valedictory Symposium announced for Professor Duncan Mara

Prof. Duncan Mara

Professor Duncan Mara retired from the University of Leeds, UK, in September 2010. To celebrate his work and achievements a Valedictory Symposium (the Global Public Health Crisis) and Dinner will be held on 13 January 2011 at the university.

The meeting will be in the format of a Royal Society Discussion meeting with ample time for debate and contributions from the floor. Speakers, representing different strands of Professor Mara’s career and legacy, include Sir Richard Feacham of UCSF, Professor Tom Curtis of Newcastle University, Graham Alabaster of UN Habitat, Martin Gambrill of the World Bank and Barbara Evans of the University of Leeds.

Prof. Mara’s first appointment as lecturer in Public Health Engineering at the University of Nairobi in 1970 marked the beginning of his lifelong research programme in water and sanitation. He is particularly known for his work on condominial or simplified) sewerage and tropical wastewater treatment and reuse.

His writing (and speaking) is rarely, if ever, constrained by the prevailing orthodoxy or authority. Clear principles govern his work that technology should be as simple as possible, that we must meet the water and sanitation needs of all of the people and simple justice encompassed in Mara’s Dictum: “the poor should not be asked to pay for things we give to the rich for free”. This symposium will celebrate his work and these values.

Professor Mara continues to publish his “personal and fairly maverick views on how international sanitation targets can be achieved” in his Sanitation blog. His personal web page provides one of the best overviews of developing country sanitation, including free access to nearly all his publications and lectures.

Professor Nigel Smith, Head of the School of Civil Engineering at Leeds, says “The retirement of Duncan Mara presents us with a unique opportunity to reflect upon his career and contributions in public health engineering. To look back to see how far we have come in the past 40 years and to look forward to see how far we have to go.”

There is no charge for attendance at the symposium but tickets for the dinner are £40 per head payable in advance.  For more information and to book a place go to the Symposium web page.

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One response to “Sanitation icon retires: Valedictory Symposium announced for Professor Duncan Mara

  1. Hopefully his retirement will provide him with enough spare time to activate comments on his “blog” (because otherwise it’s just 1way communication).

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