On November 12, 2020, Global Water Intelligence (GWI) reported the death of Peter Gichaaga, the General Manager of Nyewasco, one of Africa’s most successful water utilities, a success roundly attributed to Gichaaga’s management style and leadership skills. Gichaaga had just won GWI’s Water Leaders Award, an honor he would never realize given that the previous week, the 43-year old Gichaaga died after contracting the coronavirus.
During the pandemic, Gichaaga’s confidence in a stalwart managerial system did not falter, trusting in the process to see the utility through. Nyewasco success in serving over 800,000 people in Nyeri, a town north of Nairobi, reporting “100% piped water coverage of its service area, and full operating cost recovery with a surplus for reinvestment,” was nothing short of phenomenal. Further, Nyewasco’s sewerage cover had been on this rise, up this year from 25% to 30% under Gichaaga’s leadership — a statistic all the more noteworthy because of the pandemic. Yet, Gichaaga sought no accolades for himself.
“He was a modest man. I think he was embarrassed by all the international attention he received as the managing director of one of Africa’s most successful utilities.”Christopher Gasson, Global Water Intelligence, November 12. 20202
The press statement on Gichaaga’s death reveals the level to which the man was revered. With over 2 billion people lacking access to improved sanitation, now more than ever we need leaders like Gichaaga out there, making a difference in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and the world.
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