In Memoriam: Piers Cross

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.Cross Piers 0708 Stockholm WWW PCross

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.

Nous sommes désolés d’apprendre que Piers Cross est décédé le 29 mars, entouré de sa famille. Piers était une personne clé du secteur de l’eau, de l’assainissement et de l’hygiène pendant plusieurs décennies, et a tenu de nombreux rôles à WSP et en tant que conseiller de IRC. Il était également une force motrice du partenariat Sanitation and Water for All.
Il a joué un rôle critique dans le développement de RWSN, lorsqu’il était à la tête du réseau entre 2004 et 2008, en assurant la transformation de ce qui était à l’époque le Réseau des technologies sur les pompes manuelles (Handpump Technology Network) au Rural Water Supply Network que nous avons aujourd’hui.
Son héritage perdure et ses mots de sagesse et d’esprit manqueront à tous ceux qui ont eu le plaisir de le connaitre et de travailler avec lui.

P.S. La famille Cross a accès à son compte email dans les mois qui viennent, donc vous pouvez envoyer vos condoléances si vous le désirez à cette adresse email: piers.cross {at}

Estamos anunciando la noticia triste de que el día 29 de Marzo Piers Cross falleció, en compañía de su familia. Piers era un personaje clave en el sector de Agua, Saneamiento e Higiene por muchas décadas y en muchos roles, como líder en WSP o como asesor de IRC, y era un motor detrás de la iniciativa Sanitation and Water For All.

El también desempeño un papel fundamental en el desarrollo del RWSN cuando era presidente de la red entre 2004 y 2008 y en el rediseño de lo que era el Handpump Technology Network de aquel entonces hacía el Rural Water Supply Network que somos hoy.

El deja un legado muy grande y su sabiduría y su humor serán extrañados por todos y todas que tenían el placer de conocerle y de trabajar con él.

Kelly Ann Naylor, RWSN Chair

P.S. The Cross family will continue to monitor his email account for a few months, so please feel free to send any well wishes to this email address: piers.cross {at}

Tributes to Piers from past and present members of the RWSN Executive Steering Committee – you can leave yours in the comments section below:

‘Piers Cross was at the helm when I first got involved with RWSN, as it transformed from HTN. His passion, commitment and humour were instrumental in inspiring me to became actively involved in the network and ignited my passion for rural water services. He will be sorely missed by the sector as a whole and by those of us who were honoured to call him a friend.’ – Dr Peter Harvey, UNICEF


‘The water community, and specifically many of us individually, are better thanks to his wisdom and passion. As a former employee under him in WSP, I will fondly miss him. We pray that his soul rests in eternal peace.’  – Maimuna Nalubega, African Development Bank

Author: RWSN Secretariat

RWSN is a global network of rural water supply professionals. Visit to find out more

38 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Piers Cross”


    A most tragic loss indeed. A quite unique and wonderful man who played a major role in the WASH sector for decades and was adored by his family. He gave so much support and encouragement to so many people.

    I heard this sad news just an hour ago and have passed my deepest sympathies to his family.

    There will never be another Piers

    Peter from Zimbabwe

  2. May his soul rest in peace. it was a great honour working with you here in South Africa. Especially on the drive of hand washing strategy. It is a lot to us as we still wanted to learn a lot from you. Rest In Peace Piers
    Lutendo-Tshwane University of Technology (Department of Environmental Health)

  3. Great friend, great chief, great professional. Rest in peace Piers.

  4. I never met you, but I knew you. We never spoke but your life impacted mine in ways you will, sadly, never know. May you rest in eternal peace.

  5. My condolences to the Piers Cross family. In memoriam, my thanks for his help in positioning my country, Paraguay, within the SWA global alliance.

  6. It was a pleasure and priviledge to have known him. Condolances to friends and family.

  7. Dear Piers,
    So sad, to hear that you have gone.
    I have many fond memories of the times we worked together in the WSP in Washington in the early nineties – preparing and discussing ‘WASH training packages’, among many other things, like the usefulness of one hand-pump over another in different settings.

    It was always fun to do things with you – work was fun, and yet committed and serious.
    I learned a lot from you on how to handle stress – to not ‘letting it get to you’.
    Then you moved out of Washington, for many reasons which had nothing to do with the Program – to India, I believe. And our contacts became more sporadic.

    Yes, dear Piers – you did a lot for water and sanitation – not only in actual work, but by inspiring many young people, by transmitting your wisdom through what I like to call ‘osmosis’ – and that spirit, I am sure, will prevail for a long time.

    Dear Piers, rest in PEACE.
    The memories with you are invaluable.

    Peter Koenig
    Geneva / Switzerland

  8. Ceux que nous aimons ne disparaissent jamais. Ils vivent dans notre cœur.
    Monsieur Piers Cross, vous resterez à jamais gravé dans nos mémoires et nos cœurs.

  9. Piers, You have finished what God assigned you to do on earth, rest in perfect peace. I pray God will grant your family and the entire members of the RWSN the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

  10. My prayers go for his family at this time. I did not know Piers personally but he did advocate in all sectors of WASH with passion.

    May the Good Lord.keep him.

  11. I was impressed that my first ever request to the World Bank in about 1994 was responded to by Piers, as I had not expected a reply. Piers send the requested software, LOOP, to me. I then met him in 2005 in Tunis when AfDB and WB had a retreat to discuss rural water and sanitation – the man I met was charming, serious, practically minded and had a good sense of humour. We met in Addis and perhaps because I had grey hair at the time, he told me the story of an elderly colleague who was climbing the stairs in the Ministry and collapsed, due to not being accustomed to the altitude. Piers came to AfDB again a couple time to promote rural water, and I last met him at the World Water Forum in Marseille as we were pitching our rural water and sanitation to donors. Mr Camdessus had wisely suggested we leverage contributions from non-regional members by ensuring big participation from regional members of the Bank.
    May Piers rest in peace. He was quite tireless in service to the water sector in Africa.
    Tom Roberts, retired from AfDB

  12. I really looked forward to many more years of working and being inspired by Piers Cross and his exciting new and ongoing initiatives to motivate change and invigorate leadership for water and sanitation. I learned a lot about SWA, AfricaSan/eThekwini/N’gor (and more) and working with people the sector from talking with him in Stockholm, Dar Es Salaam, The Hague or most recently at the RWSN forum in Abidjan. What a legacy and spirit! My condolences to his family and friends.

  13. Our condolences to the bereave family. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

  14. Very sorry to receive this message…may his soul rest in full Peace..
    Piers Cross has been a wisdom for All WASH family in the world…I know hin since 2005 Africa San1…I learned from him too much…he is a knowledgeable and educative pioneer..and a driving and initiator force for WASH issues especially for the LDCs..
    He will remain a big Loss….!
    A condelences message on behalf of CSOs – WASH Sudan and ANEW to RWSN to “Kelly” specifically and to “SWA Secretariat” and for all of us in those countries who Piers advocate to scaling up their WASH agendas’…

    Hanan El-Amin
    EnvI Chairperson& ANEW BM

  15. A mentor, role models and inspirational leader. Please, you made a person like me so much hungry for water sector that caused me to pivot career trend.
    May your soul rest in peace. The Network and Entire world missed you.
    May God be with you family in such moments, for are all in the same journey waiting for our time…..

  16. I have known and worked with Piers for a very long especially at these high level meetings. His instances and assertions on details that could not easily be obvious are resounding memories of Piers. He and Dominic made a big sucess in establishing the National Planning for Results Initiatives (NPRI), which is a bedrock for our Building Blocks.

  17. Rest in Peace Piers! Thank you for sharing your tremendous professionalism and friendliness when we worked in Zimbabwe in the ’80s developing new views in the local water sector! Working and meeting with you in the years thereafter were highlights!

  18. Condolences to family and friends. Piers was a one-off, one of a kind. Inspirational, challenging (without being negative) and a visionary guiding us all. He was a beautiful and kind human being. His passing will leave a huge gap in the sector and in the lives of all those he worked with and for. We will all endeavour to carry on in the spirit of his vision to leave the world a better place.

  19. So sorry for this loss. Piers was a model of excellence in this sector – inspiring, passionate, and a tireless leader. His passing is a blow to the sector and everyone who had the opportunity to work with him. He will be missed, though the spirit he brought to the sector will be brought forward by all those who were impacted by his work.

  20. A very inspiring figure in the WASH Sector this Cadre was. Piers was the first person to come in the open making noise about open defaecation issues in Zimbabwe. The first time i engaged meaningfully with Piers was in 2012 when he facilitated a successful Annual Joint Sector Review (JSR) for Zimbabwe. The last we then engaged meaningfully was in October of 2016, Johannesburg with him facilitating the GLAAS workshop for Country Focal Point Persons……what a cheer and marvel you were Piers!! We discussed a lot including our plan to engage you to facilitate our 2017 JSR. Little did we both knew that this was only but a pipe dream. Rest in eternal peace dear FRIEND. We shall miss you greatly but we understand God has a plan!!

  21. Thank you Piers for your contributions to the WASH sector and even more for your efforts to live a true live and caring for any person around you in a respectful and supportive manner. It has been a privelage to have met you. Thank you! Karl W.

  22. My heart felt condolences for the loss of Piers Cross. He was a mentor for us in Zimbabwe’s WASH sector. We remember the guidance and leadership he provided to us when he assisted us in developing the National Water Policy for Zimbabwe.

  23. Paix à l’âme de Piers Cross que je n’ai pas eu la chance de connaitre

  24. Very sad to know that Piers is no more. I had very good opportunity to work under him in HTN and RWSN, Delhi. Lot of good memories to remember. My heart felt condolences for his death. My prayers for his soul rest in peace. His contribution to WASH sector will be remember for a long period. Sampath Kumar, Senior WASH expert and now retired from UNICEF, Sudan.

  25. What a loss. My deepest condolences to Piers’ family. Piers will be remembered by so many around the world for his contributions, his leadership and his wonderful character. Here in Australia we were privileged to work with him on the WASH conferences and SWA. Thank you Piers for your dedication and commitment to WASH for all.

  26. Rest in peace dear Cross and thank you for your contribution and commitment for the sector!!
    Condolences to friends and family!

    Abireham Misganaw
    Ministry of Health, Ethiopia

  27. Piers Cross will be a beacon-figure for WaSH sector professionals around the globe for many years to come. May his departed soul rest in eternal peace!

  28. Rest in peace Piers. I was so impressed of meeting you in a workshop in Pretoria!! The clarity of your thoughts, your questions, challenging concepts and ideas.

  29. My deepest condolences to Piers’ family. Piers will be remembered for his valuable contributions in water and sanitation. I had the opportunity to work under him during the period in WSP-South Asia. Rest in peace Piers.

  30. Mes sincères condoléances à la famille de M. Piers. Que son âme repose en paix pour tout ce qu’il a fait au secteur de l’eau.

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