December 5, 2007
DAI’s Peter Reiss Receives 2007 Lourdes Arizpe Award
At the 2007 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, DAI’s Peter Reiss was awarded the prestigious Lourdes Arizpe Award, a biennial honor bestowed by the association’s Environment & Anthropology Section to recognize outstanding achievement in the application of anthropology to environmental issues.
In the association’s words, the Lourdes Arizpe Award “highlights the critical need for anthropological knowledge and perspective in addressing current environmental issues with larger implications for matters of global concern….The Lourdes Arizpe Award combines a practical component (results) with a knowledge-base component (advancement of knowledge) for outstanding contributions from specialists in any recognized field of anthropology.”
Dr. Reiss—and the team he headed—won the award for their work on the Iraq Marshlands Restoration Program (IMRP). “This award was given not just to me but to the entire team, largely Iraqi, for their work and their courage,” said Reiss.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by DAI between May 2003 and November 2006, IMRP was designed to restore an area of Iraq that had been persecuted and an ecosystem that had been systematically drained by the Hussein regime in a process the United Nations called one of the three worst environmental disasters of the 20th century.
The program worked on two tracks. At the national level, it developed the first hydrologic model for the Tigris and Euphrates river basin, established a marshlands monitoring system, created a national database, re-established water and soil laboratories in the Ministry of Water Resources in Baghdad and at the University of Basra, and assisted the government in articulating a comprehensive marsh restoration policy.
At the regional level, it implemented five high-priority areas in ecosystem management and development assistance: integrated marsh management, agriculture, livestock and dairy, fishing, and primary health care.
IMRP’s intellectual framework—integrated marsh management—recognized that people are crucial to maintaining the ecosystem and that restoration is compatible with, indeed the prerequisite for, a wide range of economic activities contributing to sustainable human and community development.
At the award ceremony—held Saturday, December 1, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.—Reiss was accompanied by several of his colleagues from DAI’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Group, including Mohamed Chebaane, Del McCluskey, and Chris Seeley.
Reiss now travels to Cairo, Egypt, where he will lead USAID’s Blue Revolution Initiative, a project that aims to transform the culture and governance of water in the Middle East and Africa, two regions where the challenge of governing water is most acute.