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In Memoriam: our friend and colleague Piers Cross

Jennifer J. Sara's picture

Piers Cross, one of the most influential global activists in the water sector, passed away on March 29, 2017. Piers Cross worked in the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) for over 20 years in different positions, including Global Manager and Regional Director for Africa and South Asia.
Piers always had the poor very close to his heart. He was a dynamic and personable man as well as an innovative, out-of-the-box thinker who believed profoundly in the participatory process when developing sanitation projects. He also played a crucial roles in other water global agencies such as UNICEF, UN-HABITAT, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UNDP, as well as donor agencies, governments and NGOs. We are deeply grateful to Piers Cross for paving the way towards a water-secure world for all. We have lost a much loved friend and colleague. His legacy will not be forgotten.

To share condolences and stories of Piers, please leave a comment below. 



Submitted by Gulilat Birhane on

I felt that the Global Water and Sanitation Community has lost one of the hero of the sector. My heart broken as I heard his passing. Pier is one of the most dedicated and practical person with full of solution at hand, sad we lost him. I delighted to work with Pier for long. I hope, something will be done to recognize his contribution for the sector. Let all our priers go to him and let he Rest In Peace. Amen.

Submitted by Muhammad Suleman Chandio on

We are extremely sad for demise of our most expert and dedicated person who worked for the interest of poor people of South Asia. I recommend to name the South Asian World Bank Member countries, Buildings in name of Mr. Peir as a memorial in the History of World Bank.

Submitted by Jennifer Sara on

Dear Piers,
You were such an inspiration to so many of us. You had an ability to make everyone work hard and play hard and to mix work with play without ever losing sight of the end goal of delivering basic water, sanitation amd dignity to millions of people across the world. Go in Peace. We will miss you. Jennifer

Submitted by Lewnida on

Piers had the great gift of being able to blend the serious with the funny; work with play. With his wit, he was able to diffuse tensions and de-escalate potential trouble situations. And as manager of a large program demanding quality and timely delivery from his staff, he still put high premium on being humane, trusting, playful and kind. Even as he pushed for delivery of targets, he ensured that there was still time for other things that are just as important – family, football, games, music.

He will be sorely missed. May his soul rest in peace.

Submitted by Alexander E. Bakalian on

Piers was of the pioneers in the field of water and sanitation. Since his early involvement on the International Water Decade in the early 80s, he relentlessly pursued his work with the zeal of a missionary until his final days. He was eloquent, thoughtful, and convincing. The Water Family lost an ardent advocate and ally for the right of water and sanitation for all.

Submitted by Rosemary on

Piers was inspired and inspirational, and in his passing we lost a special leader, and friend. Those who worked with him though, have the chance to carry forward his example of building coalitions, forging partnerships, and working with decication to meet the WASH needs of the unserved and marginalized.

Submitted by Meike on

Piers was an original.

How he advocated tirelessly for water and sanitation to the poor. How he kept us all focused. How he wore his green sweater or orange shirt. How he could whip up a crowd atwhat till then had been a boring and bureaucratic meeting. How he made WSP into a recognized global player. How he treated all with respect and kindness.

I will miss you much, Piers. Thanks for the inspiration.

Submitted by Patricia Bakir on

I met Piers when I first worked in Zimbabwe in 1984. I said to myself "this is who I want to be in my career." Didn't fully follow that path, but he was my role model for innovative thinking (such as promotion of ZimVIPs with Blair Institute), and participatory approach - which so many people, even now, think is "new thinking." It's not. Unfortunately, didn't have the privilege of working with him, but when I saw him years and years later at a conference in Spain, it felt like seeing an old friend. And he treated me as such. I heard recently that despite saying that he wanted to "slow down, spend more time with family" he was still working, supporting capacity building projects in Africa. He contributed always - mostly through motivating the rest of us to do well and not waste a moment.

Piers was an enlightened, kind and colorful advocate for water and sanitation in the most impoverished areas. I was fortunate to work with him on a number of consultancy assignments, in which he always brought the same passion to go beyond the brief and change the way people think and act. Besides being constantly travelling around the globe, he also found ways to withdraw to his summery escape  in the Greek Islands with his extended family and write a novel about his hippie days in 1970's Tufnell Park in North London. His spirit will remain alive and will hopefully embolden us all to face the challenges ahead...

Submitted by Wambui Gichuri on

Piers will be remembered for his indefatigable efforts to expand access to WASHE services for all, especially the poor. He nurtured partnerships with diverse organizations including regional ministerial level organizations such as AMCOW, NGOs, CBOs, training and capacity building centers, the private sector, among others. He worked very hard throughout his career and even after retiring from the Bank, to raise the profile of sanitation through policy dialogue, supporting testing of new ideas, developing and disseminating knowledge, mobilizing resources, etc. He has influenced so many people, in so many ways, and leaves a strong legacy. May his soul rest in everlasting peace!

Submitted by Osward M. Chanda on

Piers will be remembered for his ability to bring out the best out of a group using informal approaches, he made everyone contribute to the objective. Often helping others think out of the box, look for ways to address the challenges at hand. He was a genius at engaging the senior government officials in water and sanitation policy issues and helping them tryout different approaches and principles. I too enjoyed his stories, a great storyteller he was! May his sould rest in eternal peace.

Submitted by R. Mukami Kariuki on

When I think of Piers, I see him smiling, laughing, encouraging us to open our minds and consider a different perspective. He had a charming manner that made it easy for him to fearlessly venture into the unknown, asking tough questions, fighting new battles, and taking on established practices – all the while getting a warm reception from those he would invite to join him on his latest journey. As I say goodbye to him, I want to thank him for all that he has done to make this world a better place for us all. Thank You Piers for making it “possible”.

Submitted by Kurt Mørck Jensen on

Dear Piers, you had presence, personality and a good heart. Be well on the other side.

Submitted by .Abubakar Garba on

So sorry for the great lost my special condolence to world bank water project.

Submitted by Muhammad Suleman Chandio on

We are really sad for expiry of Edward Piers who was dedicated person and worked for poor people of Global World and I suggest some memorial in his name to be remembered for always.

Submitted by Jonas Owusu Ohemeng on

It sad to lose such a person. I believe he is dead, but his ideas live. Let continue to promote his projects. May his soul rest in peace.

Submitted by Professor Gabriel Francis Akpan on

God Bless you and may your good works to humanity be remembered for as the gift of Love!

Submitted by Stephen Opanga on

Must have been such a great reformer in the public health and hygiene sector. Let us all carry on from the foundation that he laid.

Submitted by Gerhard van den Top on

Such a big loss - and such a legacy to inspire all who had the privilege to work with you. We were not ready for this and still find it hard to believe that you will no langer be with us, Pierce. But thank you so much for all the contributions you made, in so many different roles and ways, to widen and improve global access to WASH services. And for the gifts you gave us with your company, stories, insights, sense of humor and wisdom. Wishing your family and dear ones strength in dealing with their loss and sadness - Rest In Peace

Submitted by Adeel Akhtar Jarral on

We have lost a great human .Every human of this world should follow him to make the world a better place to live for humans and livung things

Submitted by Md. Rafiqul Alam on

We never heard the renounce name Edward Piers in the sector of development and really sad for expiry of Edward Piers who was dedicated person and worked for poor people of World.

Submitted by IMORO SEIDU YAHAYA on

His soul rest in peace.
Service to Mankind means service to God.His soul rest in the abode of God in heavens.Amen

Submitted by S. Mwaniki on

Rest in Peace

We at Sustainable Water & Sanitation have carried a lot of his work in the Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene magazine. We moan his passing and the great loss to the world he so loved.

Submitted by Joseph Narkevic on

Those of us having the singular honor and fortune to have worked with Piers remember his wit, charm, humanity, creativity, expansive knowledge, and insightfulness. Those whose lives are better because of these attributes and his skill in wielding them are countless, and just as blessed without having known him. An African original, a hero, a friend…till we meet again, Piers.

Submitted by Mike Eldon on

Such a sad loss of such a great happiness inducer. I was alerted to the passing away of Piers in today's Kenya Saturday Standard - of all places on Madd's cartoon page(where Madd describes him as 'the brains behind a series of the World Bank's water and Sanitation Program calendars that featured cartoons'. Madd continues by saying Piers 'recognised the power of images and the role cartoonists playing passing critical information'.
I owe my first contract with the Bank to Piers, who engaged me and my colleague to run a WSP retreat in March 2007. We have worked together since, including in Ghana and in South Africa, and I am so grateful of how he helped me develop my skills at running workshops and retreats - not least with the Bank.
We will miss you Piers. Lots.

Submitted by Michael. on

Big loss for water community
He was a source of guidance and inspiration for many in the international water community. My first contact with him was about 15 year ago, related to a big water meeting in Africa that he was organizing.

Submitted by Meera Mehta on

Over the years, Piers has influenced the lives of so many sector professionals positively. And always in his own lively, fun, humane and unique way!! My introduction to the sector was through him and colleagues at WSP India nearly 20 years ago. I cherish my days in the WSP Africa office with him. He was always open to listen to new ideas and encouraged exploration in areas diverse as public finance/ microfinance, country monitoring systems and credit rating and bonds for utility financing.
Besides work, we also enjoyed following cricket and I will always remember his farewell cricket poem for me when we moved back from Kenya. Piers will be remembered by many and he will be most happy if we celebrate his like and work.

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