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New grant for the Millennium Water Alliance in Ethiopia

Published on: 24/06/2019

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded $7.5 million to the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) over five years to improve access to water services for more than 500,000 people in communities and institutions.

Under this new grant, IRC is supporting the hub role of MWA with the following key areas of WASH systems strengthening:

  1. Strengthen government-led monitoring systems
  2. Engage in financial tracking
  3. Support documentation and learning
  4. Support systems monitoring
  5. National and regional influencing activities

Find a re-post of the original MWA announcement with more information about the programme below:


Washington, DC, May 9, 2019 – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded $7.5 million to the Millennium Water Alliance over five years to improve access to water services for more than 500,000 people in communities and institutions.

The new program focuses on three districts in the Amhara region – Dera, Farta, North Mecha – to strengthen water service delivery systems, and to work with water authorities to improve management and to support access to safe, sustainable water and hygiene at institutions such as health care facilities and schools.

Ethiopia MWA collaboration map

MWA members collaborating in Ethiopia include CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Hungry, IRC WASH, WaterAid, and World Vision. Other strategic and technical partners include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stanford University (Woods Institute), Splash, and Evidence Action.

"This new program aligns with our focus on governments to implement long-term plans for sustainability," said Chris Dunston, Senior Program Officer – International Programs, of the Hilton Foundation. "MWA's work is district-wide, systems-focused, and will also be a learning platform from which others can replicate the ideas. This is how the Foundation sees NGOs working in closer partnership with governments and others to reach systems of scale toward the global goal of full coverage by 2030."

MWA Executive Director Keith Wright noted that "the new 2019-2024 program will build on the work of the bridge program in 2018 in which we supported district [woreda] governments to develop strategic plans for how to reach SDG 6.1 by the year 2030.

"MWA is excited to convene this program in Ethiopia, helping to push global sector-wide thinking on how to use collective impact and NGO partners as facilitators to support local governments," Wright said. "MWA will also use this project as a platform to test innovations and compile results to support the broader WASH sector, and encourage replication of successful approaches."

The $7.5 million funds from the Hilton Foundation will be applied to drinking water programming, while sanitation and hygiene work will be carried out using matching funds from MWA members implementing the program. The Hilton Foundation began funding work by MWA in Ethiopia in 2006, through programs of varying size and focus.

A shallow well built by WaterAid Ethiopia used by community members in Kurt Bahir Village Of North Mecha District; Feb. 2019

The new program aligns with district goals.

The districts set their five-year targets, on average, to increase basic water access from 30 to 69% and safely managed from 1 to 18%. The district-wide plans are costed, incorporating life cycle costs, and assume financial contributions from national, regional and district governments, communities, multiple donors and loans.

During the bridge program, 200 dispensers were installed at community water sources, adding to 49 piloted under the 2014-2017 MWA-Ethiopia program. Also in 2018, the program facilitated 538 households to develop self-supply wells, meaning rehabilitating older wells or creating news ones directly on residents' premises for their own use. This self-supply focus has been adopted as one major approach by the Ethiopian government for use where practical.

Mesfin Gerenew, Civil and Water works engineer for World Vision Ethiopia, explains the SQ Flex Solar Pump during a joint program monitoring visit to the Hamusit school in the Dera District.

"Perhaps even more importantly for the long-term, we worked hard in that program to build strong partnerships with other NGOs and government, using a long-term vision for the districts," Wright said. "This is at the core of all of MWA's work, in Ethiopia and other countries."

My Yimer Habte, Deputy Head of Water, Irrigation, and Energy for the Amhara Regional government, stressed the continuing coordination between MWA and the Ethiopian government: "The close collaboration between government bureaus and offices and the Millennium Water Alliance in generating evidence on WASH status, SDG WASH Strategic Planning, sensitization of the community, and the installation of Dispensers for Safe Water, is very exemplary. This is an effective partnership toward the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 and the Growth and Transformation Plan II in the three target woredas."

The grant from the Hilton Foundation includes a focus on WASH in healthcare facilities in the target woredas. Recent global studies on healthcare facilities in low-income nations have revealed startling statistics, and found that only 2% of healthcare facilities provide all the basic water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management services. In a recent MWA case study of 11 healthcare facilities in Ethiopia and Kenya, none of them met all the water, sanitation, hygiene, cleaning, and waste management criteria selected for that study.

The Millennium Water Alliance is the 501(c)(3) consortium of leading charities helping to bring safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education to the world's poorest people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. MWA works with governments, corporations, foundations, individuals, and other NGOs to advance best practices, share knowledge, build collaborations, and advocate for greater commitment to this global goal. MWA's members include CARE, Catholic Relief Services, El Porvenir, Food for the Hungry, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, IRC–WASH, Living Water International, Pure Water for the World, Water4, WaterAid America, Water For People, Water Mission, and World Vision.

Contact for more information:

Laura Brunson, MWA Global Program Director

Tedla Mulatu, MWA Ethiopia Program Director

Julia Friedman, Senior Communications Manager, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation