World Water Week interview opportunity: How religion is helping to conserve water resources in Jordan

World Water Week from 28 August to 2 September in Stockholm

The more people there are, the greater the demand for water – religion-based water ambassadors are advocating economical use of this scarce resource.

Jordan is one of the most water-poor countries in the world. And the scarce water resources in its cities close to the Syrian border are now under additional strain. The influx of Syrian refugees to Mafraq has doubled the number of inhabitants there. Water scarcity is impacting on drinking water supplies and on wastewater disposal, and leading to friction between Syrians and Jordanians. At the same time, neither the Jordanian nationals nor the Syrian refugees are sensitive to the concept of water conservation and efficiency. In response, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is providing assistance on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

To encourage as many people as possible to use water economically, GIZ is working closely with religious authorities. This is because more than 95% of the Syrian refugees and local inhabitants in Mafraq are Muslims. Religious dignitaries thus have a correspondingly strong influence on general public opinion and are held in high regard in society. ‘We imams have two tasks. First, we have to reduce water consumption in our mosques. This means encouraging our congregation members to cut back on the water they use for ritual washing. Second, it is our responsibility to use the mosques to educate people about water conservation,’ says imam Dr Hatem. ‘But people are still not aware of this need,’ he adds. ‘We have to continue raising their awareness during Friday prayers and through dialogue.’ In 2015, the clerics held the first nationwide Friday sermon on the topic of water conservation. More than 3 million people attend prayers every Friday and can thus be sensitised. And more sermons are set to follow. GIZ not only engages in awareness-raising, but offers technical assistance and advice to help people save water.

To date, GIZ has trained more than 800 imams and female Muslim preachers (waithat) on the topic of water conservation, enabling them pass on their know-how in the community. The waithat also educate Jordanian and Syrian women about water conservation during their home visits. GIZ is helping mosques to use water more efficiently. In host communities, the company has fitted the local mosques with water-saving taps. Furthermore, responding to the refugee-induced increase in drinking-water consumption levels in mosques, GIZ has already installed 50 water-saving drinking-water filters in some 22 of them in Mafraq.

The project is part of a Special Initiative by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to stabilise and promote development in North Africa and the Middle East. Through its Special Initiative projects, BMZ is helping to open up economic and social prospects for people in the region. Within this framework, GIZ and other organisations are implementing more than 50 additional development projects in the period from 2014 to 2021. The thematic focus is on youth and employment promotion, economic stabilisation, democracy and on stabilising neighbouring countries in crisis situations.

GIZ Project Manager, Björn Zimprich, will be available for a telephone interview on Tuesday, 23 August. If you are interested, please contact the GIZ Press Office.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federally owned organisation with worldwide operations. We support the German Government in the fields of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education. Through our work we assist people and societies in shaping their own future and improving living conditions.