Since 2010 the ‘Water Schools’ program - a joint initiative of EMF and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) - has promoted sustainable clean water and sanitation facilities in faith-related schools. Access to clean water and sanitation facilities and proper hygiene will lead to a reduction in water-related school absenteeism and, in the long run, to a community-wide reduction in water-borne disease.
EMF continued to support the program by providing the Water Schools with access to its network of innovators and portfolio of techniques until 2014 and handed over the project to Faith in Water.
Water is central to many religions. It cleanses and purifies the body, and these two qualitites give water a highly sacred status. This is reflected in the way people use water, in the way they design water systems, and in their need for access to water for washing after toilet use or washing hands.
Schools too are central to all religions: over fifty percent of the world's schools are connected to a faith, and all faiths have links not only to schools of religious thought but also to the local and regional faith community involved.
In 2009 The Ecological Management Foundation (EMF), the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) organized the Salisbury Faith in Water Workshop. The event brought together key faith school networks from six faiths, innovative entrepreneurs and secular bodies (including UNICEF, UN-Water, the World Bank, the Norwegian government, USAid and the UK Department for International Development) to discuss water, sanitation, and hygiene issues in faith schools. The workshop resulted in the establishment of the Faith Schools and Water Program in early 2010, now known as the Water Schools Programme which is based at ARC’s headquarters. ARC recently completed a first draft of its guide to WASH solutions for schools participating in the Programme.
In 2010-2013, the Water Schools programme will be extended to faith-school networks internationally and develop partnerships with water innovators and relevant secular groups, such as UNICEF and the World Bank. This will be followed by pilot projects in schools in developing countries, based on guildelines, currently under preparation, on how to run an effective water program. The results of this work will be presented at a second Faith in Water conference, which in turn will lead to further initiatives and outreach.
ARC and EMF are planning the first pilgrimage: a visit to several regions in Uganda, in order to determine the water and sanitation needs of the population, to explore the local and regional faith networks and their contacts, and to arrange roundtables with local experts on water, education, technology, and religion. The information gained from the visit will be used to develop a more elaborate plan of action.
Social impact investing is on the rim to become main streamed, this will take another 3-5 years, but the trend is clear: more and more high net worth individuals prefer to invest instead of donate, taking a more business wise approach. Investing in Micro Finance Institutions (MFI) is a clear example impact investing pays off, from a financial point of view. However the social and environmental impact of commercial operating MFIs' is not a given fact of their business. Most of these institutes realize they have to improve, so why don't MFIs' invest in water and sanitation?More »