Our Story


At the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a U.S. commitment to the global 2015 Millennium Development Goals (now the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals). One goal was to reduce by half the number of people without access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation.

To help achieve this MDG goal and beyond, in 2003 several leading US-based non-governmental organizations working in water and sanitation formed the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization to offer sustainable solutions through advocacy and influence, shared knowledge, and collaborative programming.


Growth and Collective Impact

Under the leadership of the founding board of directors, the Millennium Water Alliance began building and leading consortium field programs in which MWA members bring their strengths on effective approaches for efficiency and long-term impact.  MWA plays a key role in convening its members with business and government partners to deliver sustained results.  MWA’s major collaborative field programs to date have been in Ethiopia, Kenya, and in six countries in Latin America (see our Programs & Innovation pages for more information).

Until 2007, MWA was operated by its board members – representatives of the member organizations– with the help of consultants and staff from member organizations. The growth of the collective impact programs and the need for advocacy inspired the board to hire its first full-time Executive Director in 2007 and a Director of Advocacy and Communications to establish its first MWA headquarters in Washington, DC

MWA has since added a Deputy Director, Finance Director, and Legal Advisor to the staff. (See our website Staff page for current listing.)

Building Influence

MWA was one of the key leaders in the drafting and passage of the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, and the 2014 Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act.

MWA pays a central role in advocacy on annual Congressional appropriations for USAID water and sanitation programming and is a voice for civil society in other development forums in the US and abroad.

Globally, MWA organizes the voices and skills of its members to support local governments and the private sector to appropriately prioritize and support resilient water and sanitation services to their people.

Naw Lay at Handwashing station

Global Reach and Localization

MWA increases its global impact by increasing the number and types of its members, including adding businesses and research institutions to its founding non-profit NGO members. This rich membership ecosystem leads to impactful partnerships and opportunities to accelerate best practices and scale around the world.

MWA hosts global learning events that involve both head office and member staff from field offices, local and global businesses, and representatives from government.

As part of a localization agenda, the MWA global office “hub” is now co-located between Washington, DC, USA and Nairobi, Kenya—both global capitals for innovation and partnership.


MWA Team

Learn about our Team


Board of Directors

Learn about our Board


Financials & Reports

View Financial Documents and Reports


Contact Us

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