Community hygiene awareness programmes

Community hygiene awareness programmes

How can improved water and sanitation provisions be more effective?

At any one time, half the people in the developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water supply and sanitation services and more than half the hospital beds in the world are filled with people suffering from water related diseases.
(UNDP, Water Governance for Poverty Reduction, 2004)

In the absence of formal sanitation facilities and solid waste disposal and collection systems, many people living in rural areas and urban slums resort to using unhygienic practices which can be detrimental to the environment and increase their susceptibility to disease.

It is important that people understand the links between poor hygiene and ill health in order to change their behaviour and implement improved hygiene practices.

Research shows that hand washing does more for reducing child mortality and the incidence of infectious intestinal diseases than the provision of safe water or even latrines. Yet hygiene gets surprisingly little focus.
(UNDP, Water Governance for Poverty Reduction, 2004)

The diagram below shows that faecal-oral transmission routes cannot be broken through improved water and sanitation services alone – hygiene education must be incorporated to address all of the transmission routes.


Diagram: barriers to faecal-oral transmission routes

Further Reading

The WELL Factsheets, e.g. Hygiene Promotion, and Evaluation of Hygiene Promotion

Factsheets 1

Factsheets 2

Provide hygiene education hand in hand with water and sanitation services

Safe hygiene practices include

Quick wins

Teaching health and hygiene skills in schools can lead to life-long positive habits and teaching mothers good hygiene procedures helps young children to get a good start in life.

For successful hygiene education:

  • Target specific audiences
  • Target a small number of risk practices
  • Identify motives for changed behaviour
  • Communicate positive hygiene messages
  • Employ a cost-effective mix of appropriate communication channels
  • Careful planning, execution, monitoring, evaluation and reporting are required
  • Implement community-led initiatives

Improved hygienic conditions can lead to:

  • Heightened personal dignity and national pride
  • Savings in health costs
  • Higher worker productivity
  • Better learning capacities of school children
  • Strengthened tourism
  • Increased school attendance, especially by girls

Further Reading

WaterAid’s website and resourcesWaterAid’s Hygiene Education Issue
Soap Stories and Toilet Tales, 10 Case Studies, Unicef
United Nations Development Programme website Woreda Resource Book, Community-Led Total Behaviour Change in Hygiene and Sanitation