Temples to toilets: Global Interfaith WASH Alliance launched

GIWA launch, New York

Photo: UNICEF/2013/Berger

In 2012, when Indian Minister Jairam Ramesh remarked that “the country needs more toilets than temples”, he was stripped of his additional post as Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation [1].

GIWA-logoNot all religious leaders object to linking temples to toilets though. On 25 September 2013, a Rabbi, a Swami, an Imam and a Sister of Mercy were among those who congregated at UNICEF House in New York to celebrate the launch of GIWA, the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance.

Inspired by the Earth Charter, GIWA’s 14 founding members, share a common goal: “a water-secure world […] in which all children may enjoy their right to safe drinking water and to adequate sanitation”.

The seed for GIWA was planted in the Peace Palace in The Hague during Wings for Water, a multi-stakeholder dialogue held in advance of 2013 World Water Day. In The Hague, GIWA co-founder Iman Umer Ahmed Ilyasi  revealed his intention to engage India’s half a million imams as hygiene promoters [2].

The GIWA launch event was sponsored by the U.S. and the Netherlands and hosted by UNICEF. Before the end of 2013, GIWA plans to launch website to share ideas and best practices and the results of ongoing projects.

[1] India’s “sanitation crusader” Minister Jairam Ramesh stripped of post, E-Source, 30 Oct 2012

[2] BRAC WASH offers to help half a million Indian imams promote hygiene,  E-Source, 25 Mar 2013

Related news: Church network calls for universal access to water and sanitation, E-Source, 30 Jul 2013

Related web sites:


  • Antonia Antonopoulos, Faith-based organizations form alliance for children’s right to safe water and sanitation, UNICEF, 26 Sep 2013
  • Global Interfaith WASH Alliance to promote Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, IMO, 30 Sep 2013

One response to “Temples to toilets: Global Interfaith WASH Alliance launched

  1. Nripendra Kumar Sarma, Guwahati, Assam, India

    Dear All,
    What a Great message is shared by the Respected Imam (in the video link) by saying that he is neither a Jews, nor a Hindu and nor as a Muslim, but a Human Being …….
    Such messages lay the foundation of social harmony and cooperation in a collective manner.
    Thanking you all.
    Nripendra Kumar Sarma
    Guwahati, Assam, India

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