Jordan – using religion to save water

An increasing population needs an increasing amount of water, so religious water ambassadors are preaching about how to use this scarce resource sparingly

Jordan is one of the most arid countries in the world. The increasing number of refugees from Syria (some 630,000 people according to latest figures) is putting an increasing burden on the country’s water supplies and having a considerable impact on the water supply. At the same time, neither the Jordanian population nor the Syrian refugees are sufficiently aware of how to use water sparingly and efficiently. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is developing solutions for tackling water shortages.
GIZ is working with religious authorities to inform as many people as possible about saving water. As GIZ Project Manager Björn Zimprich explains, ‘Over 90 per cent of Jordanians and Syrians are followers of Islam, and all worshippers attend mosques regardless of their ethnic origin.’ GIZ has already run two-day courses for 500 imams and 300 female preachers to train them as ‘water ambassadors’. Here, they also learn how conflicts can be avoided or resolved. The imams build their newly acquired knowledge into their sermons in the mosques, while the preachers also visit Jordanian and Syrian women at home to raise awareness of the issue. This approach is able to target up to 1.5 million individuals, who then save not only water but money as well.

GIZ is also advising mosques on how they can reduce their own water consumption. For example, mosques in Amman use 500 million litres of water a year for cleaning buildings and especially for ritual washing. Mosques in the host communities are therefore being equipped with water-saving devices. As a pilot project, mosques are also being fitted with facilities that collect rainwater or reuse wastewater. The aim is to enable the ‘Blue Mosques’ to reduce their water consumption by 30 per cent. Consumption of drinking water in mosques has also increased in the host communities. In Mafraq, therefore, 22 mosques have already been equipped with 50 water-saving filters, which means that they no longer have to purchase drinking water.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federal enterprise with worldwide operations. It supports the German Government in the fields of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education. GIZ helps individuals and societies to develop their own prospects and improve their living conditions.