MWA manages an experimental program under the auspices of the US Department of State called the Ambassador’s Schools Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Initiative (A-WASH). Under this program, we 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 with 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 US Ambassadors to use their prestige to draw public attention to the lack of adequate WASH in schools, and to demonstrate the US partnership with these countries and other institutions to confront the issue.
Right now, implementers and embassies in 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 gaining 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 positive effect on government action in these countries.
For A-WASH, MWA works in coordination with the Global Water Challenge, a funding partner for many WASH organizations, and through GWC, receives assistance for projects in selected countries from The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. For more information, go to www.a-wash.org.