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Inspiring new charity founded to work with faiths on water, sanitation and hygiene

December 15, 2015:

An exciting new charity, inspired by a major ARC project, has been created to work with faiths on water, sanitation and hygiene - and has just produced its first publication, Putting Clean Hands Together in collaboration with UNICEF.

Faith in Water is the first charity to focus specifically on working with faith schools on issues around water, sanitation and hygiene (collectively referred to as "WASH).

Putting Clean Hands Together is aimed at both faith groups and secular organisations and looks at how they can work better together to make a real difference to the lives of children and their families.

Essential for health

Faith in Water co-founder and director Mary Bellekom says: “Clean water and good sanitation are essential for health, education and livelihoods. Yet 750 million people – one in nine worldwide – don’t have clean drinking water and more than a third of people – around 2.5 billion – lack safe sanitation facilities.

“Diseases caused by dirty water and inadequate sanitation not only trap people in a cycle of illness, poverty and poor quality of life, they are the second biggest killer of children aged under five worldwide and are responsible for more child deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

“Helping people access clean water and safe sanitation is one of the most important ways we can improve people’s lives – and working with faith groups is one of the most effective ways of reaching the world’s poorest people."

That's because more than 84% of people describe themselves as belonging to a faith and faiths are often the most trusted institutions in many countries. Faith groups are also involved in at least 50% of schools worldwide and more in some countries.

Inspired by ARC's experience

Faith in Water grew out of ARC's 20-year experience of working with faiths on environmental issues. In particular, it was inspired by ARC's major work with faith schools in Africa on a host of environmental issues.

“At ARC we constantly heard from our faith partners, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, that water and sanitation were their biggest problems in their schools,” says Mary Bellekom. “We realised that no one was focusing on working with faith schools as a gateway into the wider community. This is both a gap and an opportunity.

“That’s why Faith in Water was established as an independent secular organisation dedicated to working with all major faiths to inspire them to focus more on WASH in their schools and communities, and to help secular NGOs build effective partnerships with faith groups.”

Putting Clean Hands Together

Buddhism and water
Faith in Water's first publication, Putting Clean Hands Together, makes the case to both secular NGOs and faith groups as to why they should work more closely together.

Sponsored by UNICEF, the 32-page document includes articles on the importance of WASH to children's health and education and helpful tips on how faith groups can prioritise WASH in their schools as well as how secular organisations can work better with faith schools.

It also looks at the role of water and cleanliness in five major faiths - Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism - and features case studies of faith action on these issues.

Download from the Faith in Water website.

  • For more information visit the Faith in Water website.

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