UNICEF India and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance held a two-day intensive planning meeting at the GIWA Secretariat of Parmarth Niketan recently. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji, Co-Founder of GIWA, provided His valuable insights to the meeting. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary-General of GIWA and Swamini Adityananda Saraswatiji, GIWA’s Director of Programmes, Policy and Development, led key aspects of the discussions. Attending were UNICEF India’s Chief of WASH, Mr Nicolas Osbert, Communication for Development Specialist, Ms Rania Elessawi, Advocacy and Communication Specialist, Ms Stephanie Raison and members of the UNICEF Bihar team, WASH Specialist, Mr Pravin More and Advocacy and Communication Specialist, Ms Nipurnh Gupta.

The inspiring discussions included reflecting upon the last three years of the UNICEF India and GIWA partnerships, all of which had been deemed as quite successful in promoting life-saving WASH messages and building networks for change.

The meetings included our future plans together, which will include scaling and sustaining efforts to reach and touch more and more children all across the nation. We plan to do so by ensuring access to improved WASH through interventions including: promoting the building and use of toilets, helping to ensure our dwindling water resources are conserved, and enabling massive change through progressive WASH education for communities, faith leaders and schools.

The meeting also included plans to work in Bihar to strengthen the government’s efforts for creating and sustaining an open-defecation free state. Events to engage tribals and scheduled caste leaders were also discussed to help further add momentum to the Swachh Bharat Mission, India.

Also discussed was the holistic approach that GIWA takes to improving WASH through its many programmes including: Worship for WASH, WASH on Wheels, the Swachhta Kranti (Clean Revolution) Campaign, WaterSchool Programme, World Toilet College, Policy Research and Initiatives, and more, such as Ganga Aartis, regular mass pledges, water-replenishing tree plantations, the promotion of water-saving organic farming, and other complimentary efforts.
During the visit, the team also meet with GIWA’s on-ground team, visited our World Toilet College as well as met with the women who have been engaged and empowered by GIWA’s World Toilet College and Women for WASH Initiatives.

They also joined Parmarth Niketan’s Rishikumars in a peaceful morning walk and clean-up of the beautiful Rajaji National Forest, which is a tiger and elephant reserve near which GIWA’s International Secretariat is located.

The UNICEF team also visited a nearby village with Nandini Tripathiji, GIWA’s Director of Programme Implementation, in which GIWA has been working to ensure that toilets are built for– and embraced by– every household, towards an open-defecation free status.