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WASH: Linking Global Health And Global Economies

JUNE 4, 2020  | WEBINAR

1:00 pm EDT

Since its inception in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has worked alongside developing countries to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and strengthen institutions within developing countries. Their commitment to reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth around the world has led to MCC investing more than $13 billion in country-led projects in areas such as infrastructure, education, and health. One area that MCC has invested heavily in is Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), especially on the African continent. Working alongside several nations such as Mozambique, Cabo Verde, Sierra Leone, and Zambia, MCC has played an integral role in improving access to safe water and sanitation supplies in underserved communities. With the spread of COVID-19 around the world, access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies is more critical now than ever before.

Attendees to this webinar heard MCC’s CEO Sean Cairncross discuss MCC’s WASH investments in Africa. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Kennedy Odede, Founder and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities. Framing remarks were provided by Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Senior Fellow at Harvard University Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, and Concordia Leadership Council Member.




  • The webinar began with opening remarks from Concordia Leadership Council Member Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, referencing U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ historic March 2018 call to action on essential WASH in health care facilities and highlighting that access to clean water is a basic right that is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. Today’s pandemic has put a spotlight on the critical importance of WASH services, particularly for preventing and containing diseases. With 2020 being declared the “Year of WASH” by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) under the leadership of Sean Cairncross, and COVID-19 expected to hit the world’s most vulnerable populations the most, the importance of MCC’s work in this space is more relevant than ever.
  • MCC, as highlighted by Sean, works with governments to assess needs and identify core constraints on a country’s economy and, ultimately, partner on sustainable ways of addressing those constraints to alleviate global poverty. This data-driven, country-led approach to identifying bottlenecks concretely designs projects that reduce poverty and promote economic growth, while ensuring community buy-in. It is under this community-led model that WASH projects have become central to MCC’s portfolio.
  • Three-quarters of MCC’s portfolio is currently based in Africa, with many successful interventions in the WASH space. For example, in Zambia, MCC has worked on a drainage and sewage project that addressed concerns around flooding that have previously led to issues with trash removal and health concerns. In Cape Verde, a water-scarce country, MCC has established an institution that executes water delivery in a public and transparent manner. MCC highlighted its vision to branch out to East Africa, given that its projects have historically been concentrated on West Africa; this will include Kenya, the home country of Kennedy Odede, Founder & CEO of Shining Hope for Communities, via a new Threshold Program. 
  • The conversation concluded with an invitation: MCC as an agency thrives on partnerships and is constantly looking to engage the private sector. Their model understands that these projects cannot be sustainable over the long term without private sector engagement and private capital investment. Each project includes careful evaluation of what might address drivers of poverty at scale, and is infused with institutional investment criteria that address what is most needed and what is currently holding back investment. Importantly, all of MCC’s procurements and projects include a public and independent Monitoring & Evaluation framework for 20 years following the completion of any project, a model that requires enduring and sustainable partnerships. For those reasons, MCC is actively looking for partners to engage with, and hopes that Concordia’s community can continue to spread this message.



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