The Millennium Water Alliance Convenes and Influences Governments, the Private Sector, and Non-Governmental Organizations to Accelerate Global Progress in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene


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Thursday October 16


Safe Sanitation Impact: A Rural Community Celebrates ‘Open Defecation Free’

Atuntun Village, Ngaremara Ward of Isiolo County, Kenya – The small community of Atuntun in central Kenya is the latest in the Millennium Water Alliance’s Kenya Arid Lands Disaster Risk Reduction (KALDRR) program to join the growing number declared “”open defecation free,” an important water and sanitation milestone in in the region.

Local residents celebrated with representatives of Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), MWA-member Food for the Hungry, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on August 25. Latrine coverage in Isiolo County is now at 48%, according to the Ministry of Health. Isiolo County is aiming at increasing the coverage through its own budget and assistance from the other stakeholders of WASH. The fact that the county has a pastoralist community – meaning people are here today but gone tomorrow – complicates attaining latrine coverage and being open defecation free (ODF).

The county is advocating for ODF to all 336 villages in Isiolo County. Two hundred villages have been targeted for ODF, 40 are reported as attaining ODF, and three have been verified. They noted that the verification process is slow for lack of trained staff and the county plans to set up its own verification team and have local certifiers to fasten the ODF verification and certification process. Proper training is needed to achieve this.

The county intends to have the remaining 160 villages that were “triggered” to reach ODF by the end of the year. It was noted that a triggered village causes a ripple effect to the neighboring village, helping to advance ODF status.  Isiolo County has prioritized WASH issues to curb maternal deaths, which have been high in this county. To tackle a “chronic shortage of staff at health centers,” the county government is looking into setting up a medical training institute to train health personnel to cover various health facilities.

Being a water-scarce county, three-fourths of the households are not connected to any water facility. And even though Ngaremara Ward covers 200 square kilometers, it only has four water points in total, of which the water point in Atuntun village does not give enough water to meet all needs (both domestic and for food production).

Complicating the work, the water salinity in Isiolo County can cause erosion to equipment, presenting another challenge to implementers. A community member testified to the impact of community-led total sanitation (CLTS) on her household. She noted that they had come from very far from a time when they had no latrines, to all 108 households in Atuntun Village now owning a latrine. In the three households that the that the team members visited for the celebration, the levels of hygiene were high and the members of the specific household were happy and proud of what they had achieved. In each of the three households, there was a dish rack, a clothes-hanging line, a compost pit, and a latrine with a handwashing facility.

Residents explained how the process of constructing all this – especially the latrine – was a collective responsibility of the family members. They had picked the trees from the bushes and forest and step by step they built their latrines. Latrines were built of either wood or mud with roofs that were made of straw grass, cloth or a combination. There was some difference in quality to be seen, but one has to keep in mind that before most people did not have any latrine at all.

Residents also noted the following results from improved sanitation:

  • They have come to appreciate the need for good hygiene and sanitation as their children fall sick less often than before.
  • They are able to save more since the money that was used to seek treatment is now being used in other ways to improve their families.

FH Country Director Markus Takkunen and CEC Health Isiolo County Minister Hon. Patrick Lesengei unveil the ODF Billboard.  The Atuntun Village urged Food for the Hungry and MWA to provide more boreholes in the village or pipe the water from the one borehole they have so that the people further from the borehole can have water access. One of the community health workers also noted a need for continuous monitoring of the CLTS so as to maintain the set standards and to continue giving information on the need for good hygiene and sanitation.

Health Minister The Hon. Patrick Lesengei thanked USAID, Food for the Hungry and MWA for their continuous support on WASH-related initiatives in the county. He noted that his Ministry is developing a strategic Health Policy and that will seek to address various challenges in the Health sector. He also thanked the Atuntun Community for accepting and embracing this change. The Minister said that he seeks to replicate this model to all other villages in Isiolo County.

From field report by Senan Kanana and Tabitha Gerrets, MWA-Kenya Program, Aug 25, 2014.





Download the PDF here: Kenya Trust Announcement August 1 2014



Washington DC, August 1 , 2014 – The US-based Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), the consortium of 15 leading NGOs working in water, sanitation, and hygiene education (WASH), announces creation of a new entity in Kenya to accelerate WASH funding and programming in support of the country’s goals of 100% coverage by 2030.

Former Kenya President Mwai Kibaki, who will serve as the Patron for the Millennium Water Alliance Kenya Trust (MWA-K), declared the Trust will seek to mobilize the country for universal coverage, increasing the pace for Kenyan government’s ongoing devolution of water and sanitation management to the grassroots level.

“The creation of the Trust will bring the partnership of the NGOs to a new level with Kenyan national and local government and other stakeholders,” according to MWA Chairman Malcolm Morris, who joined President Kibaki in June to finalize details for the launch of the Trust. Stanley Murage, a well-known advisor on policy and strategy to the former President, also serves on the MWA-K Board of Directors.

“Today, an average of 93% of WASH funding comes from private sources, only 7% globally comes from philanthropy,” noted Morris. “The NGO role is important and has often been catalytic for progress, but we need a holistic approach with government at the center, strengthening devolved governance to develop fee-based water and sanitation systems in partnership with the private sector, civil society, and the end user.”

Speaking at the event in the Ole Tinga area in Kajiado West constituency, Kajiado County, former President Kibaki spoke about the political unity that is needed to move the country forward to meet the 2030 goals and the foundational role of WASH in that progress.  “Over the last one and a half decades, the progress made is visible to all. In recent years, the borehole here, which has transformed the life and fortunes of this place, is operated on electric power, making the supply of water more reliable than ever before,” the former President said.

The MWA-K will monitor progress toward 100% universal coverage by counties, and track resources committed by all stakeholders and results toward the coverage goal, according to MWA Executive Director Rafael Callejas.

The Trust will specifically seek to:

1. Leverage and engage new and existing partnerships and networks across all sectors to advance universal WASH coverage;

2. Strengthen devolved governance structures and institutional arrangements for WASH;

3. Advocate for and support policy and regulatory frameworks for universal WASH coverage;

4. Collectively mobilize resources to increase investment to achieve universal coverage;

5. Facilitate and implement models of success of what a county moving toward universal coverage looks like.


“The MWA Kenya Trust will promote the role of the National Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System to track the progress of counties toward universal WASH coverage and sustainability by 2030,” Callejas said.  “It is also important that we promote acceptance of fee-based approach to develop and sustain integrated water and sanitation systems—water is not a free commodity,” Callejas noted, representing the combined experience of MWA members over many years of WASH implementation in Kenya and around the world.

MWA has been implementing WASH programs in Kenya since 2005, primarily with funding from the United States Agency for International Development. Between 2005 and the end of 2014, MWA will have invested more than $15 million in the rural WASH sector and provided more than 350,000 Kenyans with access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

The Trust is also supported by MWA’s partners based in The Netherlands – Aqua for All, Acacia Water, Akvo, and MWA member IRC – who already play a major role in MWA’s current Kenya Arid Lands Disaster Risk Reduction – WASH Program.  This two-year effort, implemented by four MWA members and funded by USAID, is bringing access to at least 160,000 people. The program has created a dynamic partnership between the Dutch and MWA that will increase the scale of work done through the new Trust.

MWA’s members include Aguayuda, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Hungry, Global Water, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, IRC – International Water and Sanitation Center, Lifewater, Living Water International, Pure Water for the World, WaterAid in America, Water For People, Water Missions International,, and World Vision.

For more information, contact:

Rafael Callejas 202-296-1836

John Sparks 202-296-1833