In memoriam: Piers Cross

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We have lost a much-loved friend and colleague: Piers Cross died on March 29, 2017. Throughout a long career in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, Piers advised governments, supported civil society networks, provided support to regional bodies such as AMCOW, worked for leading sector organizations, including the World Bank, and explored opportunities to strengthen ties with the private sector. He embodied the spirit of Sanitation and Water for All, and worked with a small group of like-minded colleagues from across the sector to establish the SWA global partnership, guide it through its difficult early years, and help set the vision for its continued growth. His career was full of highlights and achievements, and memorable not just for what he did, but how he did it. He mentored younger colleagues, challenged his peers, and managed to inject a sense of fun and adventure into discussions that nonetheless tackled serious issues.

Those who had the privilege to work with Piers also recall his love for his family: his wife, Lynda, his four children, his grandchildren, and a seemingly overflowing house full of extended family and friends.  We join them all in our grief that Piers is no longer by our side, but a desire to celebrate and remember his remarkable life.

Source: Sanitation and Water for All 30th March 2017


We were saddened to learn that Piers Cross passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on 29 March. Piers was a central figure in the WASH sector for many decades, in many roles at WSP and advising IRC, and was a driving force behind the Sanitation and Water for All partnership.

He played a critical role in the development of RWSN, when he was Chair of the network between 2004 and 2008, by re-shaping the Handpump Technology Network (HTN) to the Rural Water Supply Network that we have today.

He leaves a great legacy and his words of wisdom and wit will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.

Source: Rural Water Supply Network, 30th March 2017


Today we heard the sad news that our dear friend and sector colleague; respected Supervisory Board Member; and water and sanitation sector guru; Edward Piers Cross has passed away. We convey our sincere condolences to his family, especially his wife Lynda, his four children and grand-children and to all others who were touched by his wonderful presence.

For 30 years, Piers was a passionate activist, spokesperson and thought leader for water supply and sanitation. He worked for the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program for 20 years in several capacities, including as Global Program Manager and Principle Regional Team Leader in Africa and South Asia. He advised international agencies on water and sanitation issues and was a senior advisor and tireless champion of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership. He worked in over 40 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. He was founding CEO of the Mvula Trust which, in the Mandela years (1990s), helped his country, South Africa, to rapidly scale up rural water and sanitation delivery.

Piers's first formal connection with IRC was in 1999, when he served as an international member on the IRC Advisory Board. In 2012, he joined IRC’s Supervisory Board. His contribution was always of great value, he kept us on the right track with his clear view of the WASH sector. We will not only miss Piers’s expertise but most of all the friendship of a man of great wisdom and humour.

In an interview he gave on World Water Day 2013, Piers presented his insider view on the past and future of international WASH cooperation. For him it was clear that the SWA partnership was our best bet for the way forward. He remained “irrepressibly optimistic about WASH’s future”.

He will be sorely missed.

On behalf of Board and Staff of IRC: Hans van Dord (Chair), Patrick Moriarty (CEO).

Source: IRC, 30th March 2017


It is with great sadness that WSSCC notes the untimely passing of Piers Edward Cross. As a respected key member of the Collaborative Council, Piers was present at every important juncture in the life of the Council since the early 1990’s.

Piers was vocal member in the large-scale consultations that led to Vision 21 in 2000. He was an important collaborator in envisioning and then building up the Africasan regional process, and supporting its successors in Asia and Latin America.

Since 2007 he acted as an advisor to the WSSCC Steering Committee and successive Executive Directors. In 2012, he was Forum Director for the WSSCC Global Forum in Mumbai. Over the years he served informally as mentor to many WSSCC staff – providing a visionary, strategic and engaged brain to pick, for example, at an advocacy brainstorming retreat in 2008, or on daily issues – both large and small.

Piers brought an infectious enthusiasm, genuine passion and drive, and great insight. He touched the lives of so many people, and many of us considered him as a true inspiration.

The WASH sector and South Africa have lost a great friend. We send our heartfelt condolences to those he leaves behind, with best wishes in particular to his immediate family, and extended family of friends.

Source: WSSCC, 30th March 2017

Date: 31 March 2017