Water, our shared symbol, is a most fitting place for people of all faiths and moral courage to unite and lead. Here are 7 steps that will make a difference, near and far:
Step 1: Remember this acronym: WASH. WASH is WAter/Sanitation/Hygiene. Access to WASH is the solution.
Step 2: Rusty pumps: Let’s make sure our charity work, works. Many houses of worship enthusiastically commit to installing “the village water pump,” but fifty percent of these one-off projects fail. A pump and posing for the photo-op isn’t good enough. We’ve got to dramatically ramp up and provide far wider support to what works, not to what makes us feel good.
Step 3: Awareness: The U.S. leads the world in per person water use. In just four days, we use more water here than the world uses oil in a year. We over-water our lawns. We waste food (agriculture is the biggest water user in the U.S.) The average American flushes the toilet five times a day, which comes to almost six billion gallons of clean drinking water, literally going down the toilet, every day. There are plenty of ways to be smarter about our water use.
Step 4: Action: Fun, community-building activities that engage youth and congregations also make a difference at home and at your house of worship. We can enrich our experience even more by reaching out to a neighboring church, synagogue or mosque to share with them this opportunity to make a difference, together.
Step 5: Support women: Religion has too often been a source of repression and oppression. Supporting sustainable WASH projects is an opportunity to stand in support of all women. Like water, women are the source of life and health around the world.
Step 6: Clergy: Let’s encourage our American faith leaders to connect with their international counterparts, because faith leaders in developing countries can influence everything from policies that prioritize WASH development, to changes in hygiene behavior that make the difference between life and death.
Step 7: U.S. government: Our government spends just one one-hundredth of a percent of the federal budget on WASH. Any health and development plan, policy or legislation that doesn’t include WASH is guaranteed to fall short of its goals. Because the faith voice is listened to on Capitol Hill, let’s use our voices to remind Members of Congress that no matter how much good work we do in the private sector, no funding and leadership is more influential than U.S. government foreign assistance and including WASH is smart, logical and cost-effective.
Today is World Water Day: #blue4water
More information at www.faithsforsafewater.org
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