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

Later, that global goal for water access was met two years ahead of schedule, according to the Joint Monitoring Program, although progress varied widely from country to country, and the global sanitation goal fell far short. To play a role to help reach this goal, in 2003 the 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, shared knowledge, and collaborative programming.

Since then, 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 collaborative field programs to date have operated in Ethiopia, Kenya, and in five countries in Central America (see our Programs page on the website for more information).

Until 2007, MWA was largely operated by the Board members – representatives of the member NGOs – with the help of consultants and member NGO staffs. The growth of the consortium programs and the need for collective advocacy inspired the Board to hire its first full-time executive director in 2007.

In June 2010, the Board hired a professional public policy advocate and nonprofit executive to establish the first MWA office, in Washington DC. Later that year, MWA added a professional field program director and a senior accountant to the staff. Since then, MWA has grown further, adding full-time staff and consultants in the US and abroad. (See our website Board page and Staff page for current listing.)

MWA has become a leading voice in the global WASH sector, and in particular, on US advocacy for more US government investment in global WASH. MWA played a leading role in the drafting and passage of the 2005 Sen. Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, the 2014 Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act, and in annual appropriations (often with increases) for USAID WASH programming. MWA also serves as a US voice for civil society in the Sanitation and Water for All initiative, and in other forums.

As of April 2019, MWA has eight NGOs as full members (represented on the Board of Directors), and six NGOs as affiliate members. All members have headquarters in the US, except for IRC-WASH (The Netherlands) and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (Switzerland). 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 cultural sensitivity in all their work.


Rev April 2019