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GIWA – The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance

A TIO Report


An ambitious Hindu inspired venture aspires to global impact through an interfaith alliance centered on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Drawing on “inspiration from historical guideposts and modern advances,” it aims to galvanize collaborative action among the world’s religious and spiritual traditions, governments, international organizations, businesses, and civil society. GIWA is based in India and is building a range of national and international partnerships, positioning itself as the leader in a multi-religious, multi-sectorial engagement on WASH related issues. GIWA is being established with a Netherlands base as an international not-for-profit organization.

The 2012 signing of a UNI-GIWA Declaration promoting clean water and sanitation for all people – Photo: washalliance.org

The 2012 signing of a UNI-GIWA Declaration promoting clean water and sanitation for all people – Photo: washalliance.org

Established in 2013 in partnership with UNICEF, with co-sponsorship from USAID and the Netherlands, GIWA works on several dimensions, including advocacy, movement building and direct operations. It advocates with governments for environmental restoration and access to water and sanitation for every person in the community. It rallies religious leaders, encouraging them to work in and lead their own communities. It organizes and supports local development projects, including building public bio-digester toilets, water purification sites, disaster response, and environmental restoration. After the 2013 Uttarkhand floods in India, it supported various projects to provide clean drinking water and bio-digester toilets in the region. The goal is to provide thousands of eco-friendly toilets to villages throughout the Ganga River Basin. Finally, GIWA has working partnerships with international organizations engaged on WASH issues, including religious organizations.

GIWA has worked to gather public support from many political and cultural leaders. A priority is the National Ganga Rights Movement, an effort that has included visits from Macklemoore, Sting, different Bollywood stars, HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thami, Emir of Qatar, and others.

GIWA has facilitated the publication of several reports and plans for the green restoration of several river basins, including the Ganges and the Yamuna River. These include educational pamphlets on keeping the river clean and proper hygiene for elementary schools. Reaching out to schools resulted in part from their analysis that previous efforts to clean the environment did not engage the local community, or attempt to build an environmental/WASH movement.