Religious leaders in Indonesia helped develop and implement a hygiene and health project, the ‘Clean Friday Campaign’, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Institute Agama Islam Negeri Ar-Raniry (Ar-Raniry State Islamic Religion Institute), CARE International, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. Ulama (religious leaders) were instrumental in crafting health messages positively linked to Quranic verses and Islamic teachings on basic hygiene and personal cleanliness. They are committed to spreading these behaviour change messages in their communities through their Friday prayers, community meetings and speeches.
In 2009 during a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe there were a large number of deaths among members of the Apostolic faith, who do not accept modern medical treatment. UNICEF led major advocacy efforts to increase the acceptance rate of treatment. UNICEF also trained 96 religious leaders and produced a programme on cholera hosted by a popular talk show hostess that was shown on national television and reached an estimated 300,000 people with appropriate hygiene messages.
A 2009 Religion and Health Project evaluation in Bhutan indicated that a sanitation and water project was effective and relevant for improving and promoting health, hygiene and sanitation in religious institutions and their neighbouring communities. The project included training religious health workers with the skills to maintain and sustain the improved health and hygiene conditions in religious schools.
Alliance of Religions and Conversation (ARC) and UNICEF
In 2010, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which works with the major religions traditions to develop their own environmental programmes based on their core teachings, beliefs and practices, joined the Call to Action for WASH in Schools campaign led by UNICEF to realize a vision where all children go to school and all schools provide a safe, healthy and comfortable environment where children grow, learn and thrive. As part of the campaign a global virtual library of WASH in Schools experiences has been compiled through the leadership of ARC and with the voluntary assistance of WASH in Schools professionals from 39 countries. It is available at <www.unicef.org/wash/schools>.