At the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the U.S. commitment to the Goals for Sustainable Development. One goal was to “reduce by half, the proportion of people without access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation” by the year 2015.
To help reach this goal, leading US-based non-governmental organizations working in water and sanitation formed the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) as a 501(c)(3) organization to offer sustainable solutions through advocacy, shared knowledge, and collaborative programming. Our vision mirrors our belief that no one should die or suffer chronic illness as the result of a water-related disease.
From 2003 on, MWA has created consortium field programs in which member NGOs bring their strengths and share ideas on effective approaches, for maximum efficiency and long-term effectiveness. Our major field programs to date operate in Ethiopia, Kenya, and four countries in Central America (see our Programs page for more information).
Until 2009, MWA was largely operated by the Board members – representatives of the member NGOs – with the help of consultants and member NGO staffs, and in particular Alvin Tans, who served as Treasurer for the Board and oversaw all financial matters for MWA.
The growth of the consortium programs and the need for collective advocacy inspired the Board to hire its first full-time executive director, Rafael Callejas, water and sanitation expert with decades of experience, and Henrietta Bullinger, a Washington DC-based development professional.
In 2010, as Henrietta was preparing to leave MWA and the US to move to India with her family, the Board decided to hire a professional public policy advocate and nonprofit executive, John D. Sparks, to help establish the first MWA headquarters, to be located in Washington DC. Shortly after, MWA added a professional program manager, Susan M. Dundon, and a senior accountant, Peter N. Gichuru.
By the end of 2011, MWA had four full-time employees, two part-time employees, and also engaged the work of several consultants in the US and abroad. (See our Board page and Staff page for backgrounds.)
MWA now has nine implementing NGOs as full members (represented on the Board of Directors), and two organizations as affiliate members. All members must share in the mission and standards adopted by MWA, and demonstrate their commitment to water and sanitation programs that embody the values of transparency, accountability, efficiency, and sensitivity in all their work.