Queues and prayers for water and sanitation

Toilet queue

On World Water Day, 22 March, staff of the World Council of Churches and other organizations based at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, prayed for all people who lack access to clean water and basic sanitation – and joined a solidarity "toilet queue".

"Water is more than a symbol," Maike Gorsboth, coordinator of the Ecumenical Water Network, said in a prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre's chapel, reflecting on the importance of water in Christian worship and in everyday life. "Water being the source of life makes it much more than 'just' a sacramental symbol or a symbol of liberation. It also makes it a means of liberation."

"The water crisis is a symptom of our 'unjust', our 'polluted' relations with one another and with the rest of creation," she added. "The two are interconnected. And water, the bloodstream of the earth, is one of the elements that makes this connection visible and felt."

A toilet queue of 2.5 billion people

In a act of solidarity with the 2.5 billion people in the world who don't have access to safe, private and hygienic lavatories, staff members of the various church-related organizations based at the Ecumenical Centre queued in front of a symbolic "toilet door" for ten minutes. By doing so, they became part of the World's Longest Toilet Queue. This campaign, taking place in more than 50 countries on all continents, is urging governments to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

The lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation is the main reason that thousands of children die every day of preventable water-related diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

Photos of the toilet queue and a World Water Day exhibition at the Ecumenical Centre

Full text of the biblical reflection by Maike Gorsboth

More information on the Ecumenical Water Network

World Water Day

(This story was provided and used with permission by the World Council of Churches.)