Category Archives: Hygiene Promotion

Feb/March 2015 selected studies on sanitation, hygiene & handwashing


Household-Level Risk Factors for Influenza among Young Children in Dhaka, Bangladesh: A Case-Control Study(Abstract/order)

To identify household-level factors associated with influenza among young children in a crowded community in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Case households were more likely than controls to have crowded (≥4 persons) sleeping areas and cross-ventilated cooking spaces. Case and control households had similar median 24-hour geometric mean PM2.5 concentrations in the cooking and sleeping spaces. Handwashing with soap was practiced infrequently, and was not associated with pediatric influenza in this community. Interventions aimed at crowded households may reduce influenza incidence in young children.

Getting the basic rights – the role of water, sanitation and hygiene in maternal and reproductive health: a conceptual framework. (Full text)
WASH affects the risk of adverse maternal and perinatal health outcomes; these exposures are multiple and overlapping and may be distant from the immediate health outcome. Much of the evidence is weak, based on observational studies and anecdotal evidence, with relatively few systematic reviews. New systematic reviews are required to assess the quality of existing evidence more rigorously, and primary research is required to investigate the magnitude of effects of particular WASH exposures on specific maternal and perinatal outcomes.


Editorial – Prioritising clean water and sanitation (Free full text but registration required)
Sanitation is the single greatest human achievement with regard to health, yet in much of the world it is underappreciated or inaccessible. Talha Burki investigates. “Currently, the popular approaches to sanitation place a lot of responsibility on individuals and households and not as much on governments”, adds WaterAid’s Yael Velleman. In the UK, it was legislation that led to universal access to improved sanitation. “Ultimately, it was political will and public finance that pushed that drive—I wonder whether we now expect low-income countries to do something we have never done ourselves”, said Velleman. Pollock advocates a return to a health-for-all approach, attending to the building blocks of public health, such as sanitation and nutrition, and directing major investment into infrastructure and monitoring systems. “I can’t understand why we’re prioritising clinical trials in Africa, and not prioritising clean water”, she told The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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Waterlines, Jan 2015 issue on Menstrual Hygiene Management

WATERLINES – JANUARY 2015 (Complete issue)

Selected articles: 

Guest editorial: tackling the stigma and gender marginalization related to menstruation via WASH in schools programmes (abstract/order info)
Menstrual hygiene management has been defined as: ‘Women and adolescent girls using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials’ (UNICEF and WHO, 2014). However, menstrual hygiene is not just about the management of the menstrual period but also the need to address societal beliefs and taboos surrounding the issue. waterlines

Until recently, the development sector including WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) had not explored and attempted to address the challenges related to Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), an important issue affecting the health, dignity and privacy of millions of girls and women on a daily basis. It is great to have a whole issue of Waterlines dedicated to MHM, as it will help us, the maledominated, engineering-based sector, to increase our understanding of this aspect of the development work we do on a daily basis.

Putting the men into menstruation: the role of men and boys in community menstrual hygiene management (full text)
This paper examines how men and boys have an essential role in effective menstrual hygiene programmes and describes an initiative to engage men and boys in Uttar Pradesh, India. As a result of the initiative, men and boys have begun to talk about menstruation more freely and are better able to support the MHM needs of women and girls within the household, community, and school.

Adolescent schoolgirls’ experiences of menstrual cups and pads in rural western Kenya: a qualitative study (full text)
A randomized controlled feasibility study was conducted among 14–16-year-old girls, in 30 primary schools in rural western Kenya, to examine acceptability, use, and safety of menstrual cups or sanitary pads. Focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted to evaluate girls’ perceptions and experiences six months after product introduction.

Mainstreaming menstrual hygiene management in schools through the play-based approach: lessons learned from Ghana (full text)
The study objective was to identify and document the effectiveness of the play-based approach in promoting menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in schools and share lessons learned. The study used a mix of approaches including qualitative and quantitative techniques. The author carried out an exploratory evaluation on the promotion of MHM activities as part of WASH in Schools programmes in 120 public schools in Ghana. Comparison was drawn between 60 schools currently using the play-based approach in promoting MHM, and 60 schools which are not using the play-based approach.

Developing games as a qualitative method for researching menstrual hygiene management in rural Bolivia (abstract/order info)
In 2012, Emory University and UNICEF conducted a multi-country formative study to gain a global perspective of girls’ experiences. A compendium of tools was created to ensure investigation of common themes across all settings. This paper describes the process of adapting the focus group discussion (FGD) tool for Bolivia into a board game as a method to ease girls’ discomfort discussing menstruation and elicit richer data.

World Bank – Promoting Handwashing and Sanitation Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Trial in Rural Tanzania

Promoting Handwashing and Sanitation: Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Trial in Rural Tanzania, 2015. World Bank.

Authors: Bertha Briceño, Aidan Coville, Sebastian Martinez

The association between hygiene, sanitation, and health is well documented, yet thousands of children die each year from exposure to contaminated fecal matter. At the same time, evidence on the effectiveness of at-scale behavior change interventions to improve sanitation and hygiene practices is limited.

This paper presents the results of two large-scale, government-led handwashing and sanitation promotion campaigns in rural Tanzania. For the campaign, 181 wards were randomly assigned to receive sanitation promotion, handwashing promotion, both interventions together, or neither. One year after the end of the program, sanitation wards increased latrine construction rates from 38.6 to 51 percent and reduced regular open defecation from 23.1 to 11.1 percent.

Households in handwashing wards show marginal improvements in handwashing behavior related to food preparation, but not at other critical junctures. Limited interaction is observed between handwashing and sanitation on intermediate outcomes: wards that received both handwashing and sanitation promotion are less likely to have feces visible around their latrine and more likely to have a handwashing station close to their latrine facility relative to individual treatment groups.

Final health effects on child health measured through diarrhea, anemia, stunting, and wasting are absent in the single-intervention groups. The combined-treatment group produces statistically detectable, but biologically insignificant
and inconsistent, health impacts. The results highlight the importance of focusing on intermediate outcomes of take-up and behavior change as a critical first step in large-scale programs before realizing the changes in health that sanitation and hygiene interventions aim to deliver.

Mar 2015 Eawag course on Systematic Behaviour Change in Development Projects

We would like to announce our next practice-oriented Eawag course on the topic of “Systematic Behaviour Change in Development Projects”. The applied course will take place on March 5 – 6, 2015, at Eawag Dübendorf.

The course will enable participants to plan, design, and evaluate evidence-based behaviour change campaigns. The participants will learn how to conduct a quantitative survey of behavioural determinants, how to identify the required behaviour change techniques and how to prove the effects and effectiveness of these techniques. eawag

A live presentation of Dr. Kamal Kar about the CLTS<> approach and a Q&A session will be an integrated part of the course.

Participating in the course via internet using a video connection is available. For registration please click

Suzanne Benz and Evelin Vogler Committee’s office PEAK

Eawag PEAK
Überlandstrasse 133
P.O.Box 611 CH-8600 Dübendorf

Campaigning for better WASH in health care facilities

WHO is launching a global plan of action to improve access to WASH at all health care facilities. This kind of intersectoral collaboration is set to become a major theme in the post-2015 development agenda.

Maternity ward, Gazipur, Bangladesh

Maternity ward, Gazipur, Bangladesh. © DFATD-MAECD/Wendell Phillips.

Better access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities is crucial for mothers and babies to stay healthy. It is just as important as curative measures says Dr Maria Neira, the Director of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO) [1]. She announced that WHO will launch a global plan of action by March 2015 on improving access to WASH at all health care facilities [2].

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WASHplus Weekly: Handwashing research in 2014

Issue 174| Jan 16, 2015 | Focus on Handwashing Research

A Summary of Handwashing Research in 2014 – The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW)

In 2014, 26 peer reviewed handwashing studies that focused on developing countries were published.  Global PPPHW Secretariat Director Layla McCay prepared this summary and Pavani Ram, University at Buffalo, reviewed it. WASHplus Knowledge Resources Specialist Dan Campbell conducted the literature search. handwashing

What We Have Learned about Handwashing in 2014: A Summary

Measurement of handwashing behavior: Based on a review of numerous studies using structured observation to measure behavior, hands are washed with soap after approximately 19 percent of events that involved using the toilet or coming into contact with a child’s excreta.1

Behavior change communication: The much-awaited results from the Super-Amma campaign, a handwashing behavior change intervention based on emotional drivers such as nurture and disgust, have started to come in. These results show that this approach to handwashing promotion has lasting impact and is achieving the diffusion of handwashing as a social norm.2, 3 The campaign provides further confirmation that the knowledge of handwashing benefits is linked to its practice4, 5 and that women’s participatory groups6 and handwashing education in schools,7 including students’ involvement in hygiene and sanitation clubs,9 are good settings in which to build that knowledge into action. Furthermore, the mere act of checking whether households have soap seems to increase their handwashing behavior.10

Handwashing hardware: The studies reviewed provide further evidence that the availability of appropriate handwashing stations and soap in schools,7 healthcare centers,8 and in the home12, 13 increases handwashing prevalence, as does having piped water and functioning sewage mechanisms.14 Research provided further evidence that soap and ash are equally effective at cleaning hands,15 and that 4g of moringa oleifera leaf powder shows promise as an effective alternative to soap or ash for handwashing.16

Benefits of handwashing: A review estimated that handwashing with soap reduces the risk of diarrhea by 40 percent.1 Excluding the studies that could theoretically have been biased (or unblinded)—researchers knowing which people were exposed to handwashing interventions and which were not— handwashing with soap was estimated to reduce the risk of developing diarrhea by 23 percent.1 Further evidence showed that having soap in the home reduces children’s episodes of diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, eye infections, helminth infections, and school absences.18,19,20,21 It was found that good handwashing interventions in school also reduce school absences (but only for girls in one study)7 and that school-based interventions reduce episodes of diarrhea in preschool-aged siblings.17

Contamination: Various studies measured hands contaminated with rhinovirus,22 E coli,5, 25and helminth eggs.23 One study inversely correlated prevalence of handwashing with the amount of influenza virus found on household surfaces.24 A final study showed that in the rural areas hands revert to baseline levels of contamination within one hour after handwashing with soap.26

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Handwashing article receives the Elsevier Atlas award

Elsevier, a world-leading publisher and provider of information solutions for science, health, and technology professionals selected the Effect of a behaviour-change intervention on handwashing with soap in India (SuperAmma): a cluster-randomised trial, The Lancet Global Health, March 2014 article to receive the Elsevier Atlas award. lshtm

Each month a single Atlas article is selected from published research from across Elsevier’s 1,800 journals by an external advisory board made up of individuals from NGOs including the following organizations, among several others:

• Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
• Health Informational for all – HIFA 2015
• International Training and Outreach Center in Africa (ITOCA)
• United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)
• University of California, Berkeley (Centre for Effective Global Action)
• Global Health Policy Institute
• United Nations University
• Bioversity International

Atlas articles showcase research that can (or already has) significantly impact people’s lives around the world and we hope that bringing wider attention to this research will go some way to ensuring its successful implementation.