WASH Advocacy Challenge

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In collaboration with ACRA-CCS and the Fundación Avina,  WASH Advocates is running the WASH Advocacy Challenge, a small grants program which aims to improve water and sanitation policy by providing direct support to grassroots organizations to hold service providers to account in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Why support local advocacy?

Weak, fragile or poorly governed states are not always willing or able to take on their responsibilities of providing basic services. In developing countries, they typically have limited capacity and resources to fulfill all their obligations as enshrined in international law.

Too often budgets for water and sanitation exist but remain unspent. Too often water and sanitation policies are not suited to the local context or do not exist at all. Civil society groups can play a crucial role in tackling this by holding their service providers to account to ensure budgets are spent and policies exist and are fit for purpose. Furthermore, by giving evidence of what works on the ground, civil society can bring the needs of poor and marginalized to the fore. Holding those who should be providing services to account reduces reliance on outside actors such as NGOs to support greater long-term sustainability.

The WASH Advocacy Challenge is playing a crucial role in enabling civil society organizations to demand accountability by funding self-empowered communities and networks to influence political leaders who create the policies, laws, regulations and budgets regarding water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in their countries and communities.

2015 WAC Grantees

Five organisations in Africa were successful in securing grants for a wide range of activities in 2015.  This years grants empower recipient organizations to advocate for increased funding of government-led WASH programs in their countries and communities; strengthen policy dialogues between communities, civil society groups, and policymakers; raise awareness of important but under-recognized WASH challenges like menstrual hygiene management, and support high-quality WASH messaging in local news media.   The grantees are:

ESTAMOS Oganização Comunitária in partnership with PAMODZI NGO

ESTAMOS and PAMODZI are two community-based non-profit organizations in Mozambique with programs focusing on water and sanitation, HIV / AIDS prevention, nutrition, education, good governance and advocacy. The WAC grant will help improve transparency, systems and processes in local water and sanitation governance. ESTAMOS and its partners will collect evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of current budget allocations and programs and share this evidence with the public. The funds will help the government prioritize budget allocations and strengthen planning in the water and sanitation sector to prevent the high levels of mortality and morbidity due to lack of water and sanitation facilities.

Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO)

KWAHO is a national NGO based in Nairobi, Kenya. Its efforts are geared towards providing sustainable water and sanitation for disadvantaged communities throughout the country. KWAHO will use the WAC funds to influence the Kenyan Ministry of Health to include a clearly articulated and proper definition of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in the review of the National Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Policy.  KWAHO will work for a national policy and legislative framework for MHM, and for institutional arrangements and standing national and county committees to guide MHM coordination among different stakeholders.

Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASANET)

TAWASANET is a national network of Civil Society Organizations working in the water and sanitation sector in Tanzania. TAWASANET will use its WAC funding to advocate for the inclusion of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in the tax grant scheme considered by the Ministry of Education for Secondary Schools. Including MHM in this process will improve the effectiveness of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) strategies at the school-level and is expected to consequently increase the number of girls who complete their education.

IRC – Uganda

IRC is an international think-and-do tank that works with governments, NGOs, entrepreneurs and people around the world to find long-term solutions to the global crisis in WASH services. IRC – Uganda works with the WASH sector and the Government of Uganda to ensure WASH is a national level priority. IRC will use the WAC funding to advocate that Uganda’s Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development increase budget allocations specifically for the operations and maintenance of rural WASH facilities, a key component of sustainable WASH services.

Millennium Water Alliance-Kenya

The Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) is a nonprofit 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 Kenya is partnering with the Isiolo County Government in Kenya to increase the provision of water and sanitation services to 70% of its population. MWA Kenya will use the funds to strengthen the capacity of local communities within Isiolo to participate and advocate for water sector issues in policy development. The project will also raise awareness among local community members of key water governance issues, including county WASH targets, project sustainability and affordability, and equity of WASH services in order to achieve improved human health and development.

2014 WAC Grantees

Nine organisations in Africa, Asia an Latin America were successful in securing grants for a wide range of activities in 2014.  From supporting local and national level advocacy and campaigns to supporting poor and marginalized communities and their civil society networks to meet and influence their decision makers and catalyze change by strengthening political will – country by country – for safe, affordable and sustainable access to WASH.  Click here to view the six-month interim report from the WASH Advocacy Challenge grantees.


Jal Sanjaal / FAN Nepal

Jal Sanjaal is a network of civil society organizations working on WASH in Nepal. As part of the WASH Advocacy Challenge, the organization will support a newly formed women’s organization called Maitree to strengthen its work by broadening its membership base, developing an effective advocacy strategy and strengthening its communications.

It will facilitate a positive dialogue between women, who are particularly affected by poor access to water and sanitation provision, and decision makers to raise awareness of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues and existing legal frameworks for WASH service delivery.

Integrated Regional Support Programme – IRSP

IRSP works on sustainable development in Pakistan through an integrated development approach. IRSP’s WASH advocacy project will improve the capacity and knowledge of civil society organizations and relevant Pakistani government functions to work together to address WASH service delivery challenges and improve WASH policies in two provinces of Pakistan.

Social accountability tools such as community score cards or budget tracking mechanisms will be used to facilitate dialogue between these stakeholders, increase accountability as well as citizens’ participation in decision making and performance monitoring. This increased awareness of the context within which WASH services are delivered will allow these organizations to better influence local service delivery and policy to improve access.

FANSA Regional Secretariat

FANSA is a regional network of over 400 civil society organizations working on WASH issues in South Asia. This network of over 400 organizations has played a key role in influencing past SACOSAN (South Asian Conference on Sanitation) conferences.

SACOSAN brings together South Asian governments every two years to accelerate progress on sanitation and hygiene promotion in South Asia through the development of regional agendas on sanitation, learning from relevant experiences and set actions for future actions. FANSA has played a key role in bringing in the voice of civil society, particularly raising the concerns of poor and marginalized groups, to influence the outcomes of this conference. FANSA’s project will provide support to the network and its members to prepare for and participate in SACOSAN V in October 2013.


CONIWAS is a network of Ghanaian civil society organizations aiming to positively influence WASH policy and advocate for increased access to WASH services. The network is working with community groups in selected slums in Accra to build their capacity to engage local authorities and services providers for improved WASH services. Through targeted community meetings and trainings on policy frameworks and decision making processes on WASH within the Accra metropolitan area, CONIWAS will strengthen local capacity to influence decision makers, plans and budgets and improve service provision within their communities.

Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASNET)

The Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASNET) is a network of civil society organizations working to improve access to  safe  water and  improved sanitation through capacity strengthening, increased coordination as well as effective collaboration and networking between civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

TAWASNET’s project aims to undertake relevant policy analysis and research to generate information and evidence to strengthen the network’s advocacy work. This research will focus on equity issues, the use of water mapping data in local government planning and budgeting processes and the generation of case studies documenting good practice on effective pro-poor service delivery. This information will be used to engage and influence decision makers and WASH service delivery stakeholders to improve the framework for WASH services in targeted local government. To improve the interaction between local government and communities, the project will also develop and disseminate key messages on WASH policy making processes by sensitizing selected media outlets and developing awareness raising materials.

Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua (ADA)

The Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua (ADA) is an alliance working on raising awareness of environmental and rights issues in Guatamala. ADA’s project aims to improve the dialogue between decision makers and community stakeholders on WASH service delivery by strengthening the Guatemalan Platform for Water Governance (GIGA) of which it is a member. GIGA brings together key water organizations to coordinate positioning on WASH issues.

ADA will convene multi-stakeholder dialogues in five targeted departments. These dialogues will bring together departmental government structures responsible for WASH service delivery planning and implementation, community representatives, women’s groups and relevant civil society organizations. Taking the human right to water and sanitation as an entry point, the discussions will explore relevant policies and frameworks on WASH and will culminate in a national event bringing together representatives from the eight regions of Guatemala to agree a declaration on the human right to water and sanitation for the attention of regional governments and the ministry of public health. In order to raise awareness of the right to water and sanitation and other relevant rights and duties of citizens, specific materials will be produced and disseminated to suit the needs of the different cultural groups in Guatemala.

Freshwater Action Network – Mexico

FAN Mexico is a network of civil society organizations which promotes the capacity building of local organizations through facilitating the exchange of experiences and information sharing on appropriate technologies and good practice.

The legal and institutional framework for the right to water has evolved rapidly in Mexico over the past few years with the establishment of a National Water Law in parallel with new citizen participation and consultation mechanisms allowing citizens to present law projects directly to Congress. FAN Mexico has played a key role in the coordination of civil society to participate in the establishment of the water law and for its WASH advocacy project, it aims to consolidate these successes by sensitizing selected local government authorities on the new legal frameworks for universal access to WASH services, models of joint management of water resources with communities and share citizens’ views on the current legal frameworks and how these impact the work of local government authorities.

A series of training of trainers workshops will also be run to raise awareness of the new legal framework, opportunities for citizen engagement and practical ways to influence relevant decision makers. These trainings will target selected community leaders and civil society organizations working with poor and marginalized communities. Finally, the project will include a direct advocacy component focusing on parliament and the commission on water and sanitation to raise awareness of necessary legal changes and the key factors in achieving universal access to WASH.

Red de Organizaciones Comunitarias Sociales y Comunitarias de Agua del Ecuador (ROSGAE)

ROSGAE is a network of organizations working on the provision of WASH services at community level. This project aims to strengthen the advocacy capacities of ROSGAE and its member organizations to increase access to quality and sustainable WASH services in selected rural areas. To achieve this, this project tackles the complex legal and institutional frameworks regulating access to WASH services in Ecuador with a particular focus on the ongoing consultation by the national assembly on a planned law for water resource management. This project also aims to strengthen ROSGAE as a network, through legal registration and membership strengthening.

A series of regional consultations will allow ROSGAE to consolidate a common position on community water resource management options to influence policy makers. The project includes a series of discussions with relevant decision making bodies around the planned water resource management law. A series of regional workshops will provide opportunities for ROSGAE members to build their capacity to influence. Materials will be developed to disseminate the learning from the project and to communicate the network’s position on the planned water management law.

Asociación Nacional para la Defensa, Desarrollo y Distribución Ecológica del Agua a Nivel Rural (ANDAR)

The National Association for the Defence, Development and Ecological Distribution of Water in Rural Environments (ANDAR) aims to influence the policies and budgets of the Salvadorian national and local government to support rural water management systems.

ANDAR’s project will influence the national water law to recognize the role of rural water systems and management structures. To achieve this, the project will strengthen the capacity of community leaders and rural water management structures on advocacy as well as provide them with an in-depth understanding of the legal and institutional frameworks for water management in El Salvador. Exchange visits between different rural water management structures will be organized. The project will also support dialogues between these stakeholders and local government. Relevant national stakeholders will also be brought together to consider ANDAR’s position on the new water law.


Please note: the WASH Advocacy Challenge does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. Only pre-selected applicants are invited to apply for funds.

WASH Advocates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative dedicated to helping solve the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge. Our mission is to increase awareness of the global WASH challenge and solutions, and to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources devoted to those solutions throughout the developing world.

ACRA-CCS is an organization working to alleviate poverty through sustainable, innovative and shared solutions.  The accomplish this by promoting local culture and talent; strengthening community competence; supporting processes of sustainable development; favoring the protection of human rights; mobilizing resources and actors to improve conditions of communities; and supporting education, well-being, and development of new generations.

Fundación Avina creates and supports collaborative processes that produce effective cooperation among entrepreneurs, companies, civil society organizations, academia and governmental institutions so together they can contribute to advancing the common good. Through its activities, Avina builds conditions capable of influencing decision makers and generating the changes necessary for a sustainable Latin America.

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