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.
That global goal was met two years ahead of schedule, according to the Joint Monitoring Program (although progress varied from country to country). 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 501(c)(3) 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 operate in Ethiopia, Kenya, and in five countries in Central America (see our Programs page 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, Rafael de Jesus Callejas, a water and sanitation expert with decades of experience, in 2007.
In 2010, the Board hired a professional public policy advocate and nonprofit executive (John D. Sparks) to establish the first MWA office. Soon afterward, MWA added a professional program director (Susan M. Dundon) and a senior accountant (Peter N. Gichuru) to the staff. Since then, MWA has grown further, adding full-time staff and consultants in the US and abroad. (See our Board page and Staff page for current listing.)
MWA now has 10 implementing 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 (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.