Rotary-USAID Partnership

The partnership between Rotary International, one of the world’s largest humanitarian service organizations with a membership of 1.2 million, and USAID exemplifies how the private and public sectors can come together to enhance sustainable access to water and sanitation services.

Through the partnership, both organizations combine strengths to achieve greater impact and sustainability in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs. The grassroots energy and influence of Rotary’s members complements the technical expertise and government relationships of USAID. 

During the pilot phase, from 2009-2013, Rotary and USAID committed $2 million for each of three focal countries: Ghana, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines. Based on the successes and failures of this initial collaboration, Rotary and USAID doubled their investments in 2015 for the partnership’s second phase in three countries.   

Partnership Learnings

A truly integrated and effective partnership between two large, complex and decentralized organizations with very different cultures takes time and effort.

Rotary and USAID’s shared vision and mutually-complementary strengths serve as a strong foundation for the partnership. But that isn’t always enough.  The two partners continually work on aligning interests, priorities and management structures. They have formed a Partnership Steering Committee and Host Country Management Committees, as well as processes for communication, coordination and reporting, from the country level to each organization’s headquarters.

Valuable lessons were learned during the pilot phase as Rotary members worked with partners in the field.  These included:

  • USAID professionals and their implementation agencies needed to learn how to work within Rotary’s multi-tiered volunteer network;
  • Different approaches during program implementation by Rotary members and USAID professionals needed to be streamlined;
  • Rotary members needed to understand that their grassroots influence was the greatest added value that they brought to the partnership;
  • To develop a truly integrated partnership on the ground, parallel activities had to be avoided; and
  • Monitoring and data collection are integral steps to measuring impact and telling the story on the ground.  Sustainability requires innovative approaches to monitoring such as the WASH Sustainability Index Tool, which determines the long-term technical and financial sustainability of WASH interventions.

Spotlight:  Ghana

In Ghana, a country of 28 million in West Africa, Rotary members from 35 local clubs are working with USAID and national and local governmental agencies to monitor infrastructure improvements, strengthen community management systems and advocate for water and sanitation access for the long-term.  By 2020, the Rotary-USAID partnership in Ghana will have provided water and sanitation services to more than 75,000 people. You can learn more about the partnership in Ghana through the following interactive map.

USAID Rotary Map of Ghana

For more information on the Rotary-USAID Partnership, click here.