Walkerton, a serene town in Bruce County, Ontario, with a population of under 5,000, embodies tranquil rural charm, where close-knit communities thrive amid picturesque landscapes. Here on May 15, 2000, the local public utilities commission took a routine sample of the water supply and discovered E. coli contamination. The commission didn’t notify public health officials.
In the following days, several people fell ill with bloody diarrhea. The local public utilities commission reassured officials a couple of times that the water supply was safe, even though cases kept rising. By the time health officials finally warned the community against consuming untreated tap water, over 40 individuals had already sought medical attention at the hospital.
The Walkerton E. coli outbreak that saw 2,300 people fall ill, and seven die, was the worst public health disaster involving municipal water in Canadian history.
When it comes to building a healthier and more sustainable future, few people have made as much of an impact as Dr. Agnes Kalibata. As a renowned agricultural scientist, policymaker, and advocate for nutrition and food security, Dr. Kalibata has spent decades working to improve the lives of people in her home country of Rwanda and around the world.
After growing up in an Ugandan refugee camp with her Rwandan parents, Dr. Kalibata earned a degree in agricultural sciences from Makerere University in Uganda and then went on to complete a PhD in entomology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. However, it was her work in Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture that really put her on the map.