"Water and Sanitation: Faith Roles in Responding to Global Challenges" Meeting Report
June 15, 2011
On the morning of March 18, 2011, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) hosted a meeting exploring faith dimensions of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). The meeting’s goal, held four days before World Water Day, was to work towards developing an agenda for further research by the Berkley Center and WFDD. The meeting offered an opportunity for a free-flowing exchange of views and ideas on the global WASH agenda and on what approaches promise the greatest impact. This summary captures the broad themes that emerged in the conversation. A list of participants is included on the last page.
The meeting began with an overview of the mission and activities of the Berkley Center and WFDD, giving particular attention to the multi-year survey of critical issues at the intersection of religion and international development, undertaken with the support of the Henry R. Luce Foundation. Previous investigations have focused on tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, governance issues, gender, and shelter; they have tracked the engagement of faith-inspired organizations around a set of core policy challenges, with an emphasis on common problems, ethical commitments, and best practices. The group agreed on the importance of addressing sanitation, hygiene, and behavioral change alongside issues of water access, and thinking not only of water quantity but quality; to use the language of the UN Human Rights declaration, water that is “safe, clean, accessible, and affordable.” The hope is that the forthcoming report will provide an evaluation of relevant projects, describing what is being provided by faith-inspired organizations “on the ground,” as well as identifying potential bottlenecks around these issues.