US Government Agencies
- UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID)
- THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (DoS)
MWA works with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State (DoS) to advance the US goal of helping to bring better water and sanitation to the world’s poorest people. Inadequate access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation methods, and poor understanding of the impact of hygiene, constitute one of the largest – and most fixable – stumbling blocks to improving the daily lives of millions of people.
Striving to meet that goal is profoundly in the interest of the American people. Better health conditions in developing nations can lead to better school attendance (especially by young girls, for whom education is essential to giving them a chance at a better life), greater ability to produce food and build a productive economy, and help create stronger civil society institutions that fight corruption, secure freedom, and lead to political stability.
Reducing poverty and helping nations to graduate from aid (as many nations have already done over the years) are key goals of American foreign policy, through all Democratic and Republican Administrations and Congresses.
MWA and its 11 member organizations are committed to working with USAID and DoS to help the United States play its leadership role in more effective global development, to help nations move away from foreign assistance and to become more self-reliant. Our goal is to reduce water and sanitation poverty specifically, and to pursue that goal through many means and many partnerships.
Most Americans don’t know that most US government funding for poverty-reduction is actually implemented in partnerships with US-based NGOs, such as MWA’s members.
Most foreign aid is not simply “given away” to foreign governments, as some Americans mistakenly believe. Much of it is invested in programs run by US charities and US contractors, in the nonprofit and private sectors. Americans should know that USAID demands accountability and transparency in its programs. MWA members – all of them are US-based charities well-known to the American people – know USAID to be an absolutely essential partner in our global efforts.
MWA members draw their funding from a range of sources.
Our work is funded by the small and large donations of individual Americans, by foundations such as the Hilton Foundation and corporations such as Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble, and by key partnerships with the US government and multilateral government-sponsored institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank.
Much of our work would not be possible without the active role of USAID.
The US, along with governments such as the Netherlands and Germany, not only provide critical funding, but they also bring organizations together and share knowledge that helps us to make programs more effective.
The US is not alone.
Addressing the inadequate WASH conditions for nearly 2 billion people is impossible for any one nation to address alone. The UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of improving access to safe drinking water for at least half of the nearly 1 billion people who don’t have it is on track to be being met; the MDG of halving the number of people with poor sanitation – estimated to be nearly 2 billion, however, is far from being achieved. That this seems so daunting does not mean it is hopeless – indeed, the millions who have improved access today, thanks in part to the work of MWA members, are proof positive that effective public-private partnership can bring real-world results.
A US Water Strategy
Under the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act enacted by Congress in 2005, USAID was to prepare a long-term comprehensive strategy on water issues. Manpower shortages and erratic budgets have affected USAID’s ability to produce the strategy, but now the agency is close to doing so and has had input from civil society organizations (including MWA) to help USAID complete a practical, results-oriented guide for US government policy going forward.
We are working with USAID to see how NGOs can function more efficiently in implementation of US grants and improve our own monitoring and evaluation of what works best in the field, from sub-Saharan Africa to Asia and Latin America.
When the strategy is finalized and made public – we expect that to be done in spring of 2012 – MWA will post a link to the full report on this site.
Sanitation and Water for All
Representatives of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) member countries members met in Washington April 18-20, 2012, in conjunction with the annual spring meeting of the World Bank in Washington. Finance ministers, water resource ministers, others from developing nations and donor nations, and multi-lateral institutions, advanced a plan for more coordinated action.
We are especially pleased that USAID announced it will officially join SWA as a full partner, representing the entire US Government. (See the announcement in our News section.)
MWA is one of four alliances recognized as a civil society partner with SWA. Several MWA members are recognized as NGO partners in SWA.
MWA also manages a program under the auspices of DoS called the Ambassador’s Schools Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Initiative (A-WASH). Under this program, we hope to use the convening power of US Ambassadors in selected developing nations to draw attention to the need for greater commitment to WASH in schools for the poorest communities.
MWA works with the local in-country affiliates of its 11 US-based members, and the US Embassies in each country, to select a school (or several schools) that have no safe drinking water or safe sanitation system. The selected schools provide an opportunity for Ambassadors to use their prestige to draw national public attention to the lack of adequate WASH in their schools, and to demonstrate the interest of the US in working as partners with these countries and other institutions to confront the issue.
Right now, 14 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are in discussion with MWA about developing specific A-WASH projects to use this advocacy tool. In and of itself, of course, bringing improved WASH to just one or even to a handful of schools does not come close to addressing the level of the problem in these countries – but raising local and national attention to the seriousness of the issue, and sharing inspiring news that there are partners to help them meet this crisis, can have a catalytic effect on government action in these countries.
Check back to this page in the future for new material about how USAID programs are working with the WASH sector, and for updates on our advocacy with USAID and DoS and other USG agencies.