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In memory of John Pinfold

It is with great sadness that we write of the loss of our dear friend and colleague, John Pinfold, who died on Friday, 13 August 2021.

John joined OPM’s growing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team in 2016 after working and living in Africa and South Asia for over 30 years.

He brought with him a deep understanding of the WASH sector and invaluable experience working with governments in a variety of African and Asian countries. John helped OPM navigate project implementation and policy design, knowing both what was realistically possible, and how to get things moving to achieve real results.

John started his career as a teacher and district coordinator in South Sudan in the 1980s. After gaining a PhD on low-cost water supply, sanitation and hygiene for developing countries from Leeds University, John embarked on a professional adventure that took him and his family around the world for over 25 years. After a long period working with Danida supporting government WASH in Bangladesh, Uganda and Vietnam, John joined UNICEF as country representative in Malawi, and as the Toilet Chief in Zambia. During his time at UNICEF, John managed large WASH programmes that involved providing capacity-building support to national and local government, NGOs, and the private sector to scale up sustainable rural WASH services.

At OPM, John was a brilliant team leader on more than 14 assignments for UNICEF, UK-Aid/DFID, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and The Nature Conservancy on a wide variety of WASH topics, including support to implementation, technical studies, capacity building support, strategy development, operation research, project design, reviews and evaluations.

John’s work has touched, improved and supported many lives and livelihoods. His commitment never wavered and his enthusiasm never waned. We will greatly miss his good humour, generosity, professionalism and friendship, and we also take his inspiring commitment, kindness, wisdom, calm, and 'can do' approach with us on our own journeys forward.

Some of John’s most impactful work, which he was justly proud of, included:

  • Improving the quality of sanitation and hygiene in Lusaka, Zambia: Over a four year period from 2017 to 2021, John led the work of OPM and our partners designing and delivering an innovative sanitation marketing delivery model in low-income areas of Lusaka. This model is founded upon the provision of dedicated training and support to local artisans to market and build quality household latrines. Over time, these artisans have formed small businesses now beginning to work directly with the utility to deliver sanitation services to underserved communities. To date, nearly 2,000 latrines have been constructed by artisans at lower cost and to a higher quality than other comparable models in Lusaka.
  • Developing UNICEF’s Global Urban WASH strategy: Working in close collaboration with the WASH section in UNICEF headquarters, John led OPM’s work to create a clear strategic vision for UNICEF’s urban WASH programming across global, regional and country levels. The strategy can be found here.
  • Rural sanitation operational research in Ghana: From 2016 to 2019 John led OPM’s work on a UNICEF-funded operational research project to strengthen the evidence base for implementation approaches to accelerate access to rural sanitation. John oversaw three rounds of primary data collection in six rural districts to help better understand the complex web of factors that contribute to success and to translate these research findings into practical recommendations for UNICEF and the sector as a whole.

A memorial page has been set up for everyone who wishes to share condolences, anecdotes, memories and photos of John, in whatever capacity you may have known him.