Formed in 2003, the Millennium Water Alliance is a collaboration of U.S. based non-governmental organizations working in water and sanitation. The organization is designed to offer sustainable solutions to water access through knowledge, advocacy and collaborative programming. The work of the organization aims to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without safe access to water and sanitation.

The MWA creates field programs that are a coordinated effort between member NGOs to strategically address water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in vulnerable countries. Major programs by the MWA include operations in Africa and Central America. These collaborative programs allow separate NGOs to provide their own distinct strengths and ideas into one mission that is designed for maximum efficiency and long-term effectiveness.

The MWA program in Kenya, for instance, improves WASH to reduce negative impacts that come from the severe droughts and floods in the target areas. It builds the water supply in vulnerable areas of the country using low-cost, resilient technologies like rainwater harvesting facilities and improved simple water storage tanks. The program also focuses on promoting better household water treatment and safe storage techniques.

Until 2009 the MWA was run by member organizations, but the expansion of the organization’s consortium programs led to the hiring of a full time program director. Since then, the MWA’s staff has increased to a total of four full-time employees, two part-time employees, and several consultants in the U.S. and abroad.

Thanks in part to the MWA, the world met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water by 2010, five years ahead of schedule. According to the U.N. MDG website, “between 1990 and 2010 more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources.”

But the global WASH crisis continues to be an issue. Based on UNICEF’s 2013 statistics, 2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation facilities, and 768 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Lack of access to WASH leads to decreased productivity due to illness and labor wasted with hours spent carrying water from place to place. The work of the MWA needs to continue for the furthering of global sustainable development.

– Kirsten Harris

Source: Millennium Water Alliance, United Nations, UNICEF