Our strategic objective of helping to bring to scale access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation requires many actors and many voices – no one organization can do it alone.
The Millennium Water Alliance is a team of implementing organizations that work directly in the world’s poorest regions, and it is a team player with others in the United States, striving to increase public support for US leadership in effective international development.
We directly lobby Congress to support cost-effective foreign assistance, and we work with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Department of State to make sure that water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are fully recognized as critical components of all effective aid.
US Opinion Leaders and Other Organizations:
We look for opportunities for our members to engage with philanthropists, corporations, academia, media, and other non-government organizations to raise the awareness of WASH as one the most powerful tools we have to help improve the lives of millions and to promote values of self government, economic development, human health, environmental protection, and peace.
Civil Society in Developing Nations:
Full WASH coverage means:
- Regular access to safe drinking water
- Regular access to sanitation systems that are safe for humans and the environment
- Hygiene education that reduces illness and boosts school attendance and economic productivity.
This will only be attained when local communities and national governments are able to build and operate all WASH infrastructures for the long term. This better future requires our help now in encouraging a civil society movement that will stimulate government and private investment in sustainable water and sanitation at the local and national levels – a movement that comes largely from the ground up.
International NGOs such as MWA and its members can play a role in fostering this movement, but we know that the citizens of developing nations will decide what will be done. Millions in the developing world are working to improve conditions, and they are grateful for our help; in turn, we are committed to helping give voice to their concerns, and to respecting their strong efforts to make these goals a reality.
MWA’s advocacy program is committed to:
- Sharing information with our coalition partners so that they and we make most effective use of our resources to escalate understanding of the need for US leadership in WASH. This also means sharing credit and recognizing that no one organization or group can do it alone – we need to work together.
- Building a database of stories, statistics, and working knowledge from the field to help advance our policy positions and make us effective and truthful advocates.
- Using our experience to inform the sector’s strategy for raising WASH awareness and influencing policymakers. MWA brings a great deal to the table in lobbying for good US policy. The WASH sector has gradually achieved some success in recent years in improving the understanding of the role of WASH in effective foreign aid and avoiding major reductions in funding, despite overall federal budget pressures.
- Working with the rest of the international development community. The US-based NGOs who fight for effective foreign assistance often have specific areas of interest – such as food security, environmental protection, conflict prevention, defending human rights, improving public health, and other areas, that are not about WASH – but they and we have the same larger need and goal in common: Making our assistance, whether funded by generous private citizens, foundations, corporations, or government, as effective and accountable as possible. We do not advocate only for WASH, though it is essential to do so; we also advocate for sustained and comprehensive US engagement with the developing world.
- Our advocacy must reflect sensitivity to and awareness of the cultures and desires of the communities we seek to assist. No one organization knows all the answers. Even as we often bring technology and knowledge to communities that do not have that same experience, we are mindful that we can make mistakes, and that there is much knowledge in these communities already. Our aid is most effective when it recognizes that partnership, not dependency, is the real path to the success we seek. Our advocacy here at home should reflect that understanding.
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To read more about WASH advocacy, go to these pages:
Congress – Legislation, hearings, and statements relevant to WASH, and how you can most efficiently use your voice
USAID and Relevant Government Agencies – Reports, policies, and programs that we seek to influence or understand
International Organizations – Multilateral government and non-government entities that fund or implement WASH programs, perform research, hold conferences, or make decisions that affect WASH policy and practice, including building civil society in developing nations
News – the most recent updates on our advocacy efforts will be here