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Advancing worldwide human rights through clean water

The new Abel Wolman Professorship in Water and Health represents a new step in the decade-long partnership between philanthropist William Clarke and the Bloomberg School's Kellogg Schwab
Posted July 12, 2017
Bloomberg School leaders and friends, including lead donor William Clarke III (top row, far right) celebrate the installation of Kellogg Schwab (first row, second from left) as the inaugural Abel Wolman Professor of Water and Health. Bloomberg School leaders and friends, including lead donor William Clarke III (top row, far right) celebrate the installation of Kellogg Schwab (first row, second from left) as the inaugural Abel Wolman Professor of Water and Health.

Ten years ago, philanthropist William Clarke III invested in a project led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health faculty member Kellogg Schwab to help bring clean water and sanitation to people in need. The project involved using cellphone-based surveys to interview villagers near Accra, Ghana, about the impact of a rural water treatment plant. Pleased with the success of the research, Clarke recently endowed the Abel Wolman Professorship in Water and Health through his Osprey Foundation and with matching funds from the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund.

The original project upon which Clarke and Schwab — the inaugural Wolman Professor — collaborated attracted attention from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kellogg's application of "open data kit" software to digitize field interviews about water, sanitation, and hygiene accelerated the survey process exponentially. The procedure eventually received a $40 million grant from the foundation and inclusion in its Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 initiative to evaluate health indicators in 11 African and Asian countries.

"[Clarke's] continuous support over the past decade has been liberating and has enabled me to learn what does and doesn't work," Schwab says.

Schwab's chair honors Wolman, an alumnus and a legendary Hopkins faculty member and chair of sanitary engineering who co-developed the chlorination formula used to disinfect water supplies worldwide.

Learn more about the Wolman Professorship in this article from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.