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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 Goals for Sustainable Development. One goal was to “reduce by half, the proportion of people without access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation” by the year 2015.


To help reach this goal, leading US-based non-governmental organizations working in water and sanitation formed the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) as a 501(c)(3) organization to offer sustainable solutions through advocacy, shared knowledge, and collaborative programming. Our vision mirrors our belief that no one should die or suffer chronic illness as the result of a water-related disease.


As the alliance of 12 major implementers and one international WASH research organization, MWA addresses all global issues involving WASH. It also manages three major 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 field programs to date operate in Ethiopia, Kenya, and a regional program in five countries in Latin America (see our Programs page for more information). 


Until 2009, 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, Rafael de Jesus Callejas, a water and sanitation expert. In 2010, the Board hired a professional public policy advocate and nonprofit executive, John D. Sparks, to help establish the first MWA headquarters, to be located in Washington DC.  Shortly after, MWA added a professional international programs manager, Susan M. Dundon, and a senior accountant, Peter N. Gichuru. Since then, growth in programs has allowed MWA to add other professionals as the need arises.


As of 2014, MWA now has eight implementing NGOs as full members (represented on the Board of Directors) and seven organizations (six implementers, one research organization) as affiliate members. All members have headquarters in the US, except for IRC (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, and cultural sensitivity in all their work.