Hygiene framework

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WaterAid
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Right to water and sanitation, Hygiene
Vuth, 9, Kim, 10, and Nam, 7, wash their hands with soap and clean water from their village's new water well, Prek Bei, Samroang Commune, Phnom Kravanh District, Pursat Province, Cambodia, August 2016. WaterAid/Tom Greenwood

This document sets out a framework for hygiene promotion and behaviour change in the countries where WaterAid works. It is based on the current literature on hygiene promotion and draws on our experience in South Asia, the Pacific region and Africa.

Professionals in the water and sanitation sector increasingly recognise the importance of hygiene in achieving the maximum benefit from improvements in water and sanitation services. A growing body of research highlights the positive impacts that practising good hygiene can have on the health of individuals and their communities, as well as its various social and economic benefits. 

However, hygiene is frequently neglected in the water and sanitation sector, as well as in the health sector. Possible reasons for this neglect include the difficulty of changing people’s behaviour and the time required to do so; the difficulty in measuring behaviour and behaviour change; the personal and private nature of hygiene behaviour; and the fact that hygiene is related to neglected conditions: diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases – the two biggest killers of children.

The difficulty of measuring behaviour has likely also led to under-investment in research on hygiene promotion and behaviour change.

The specific aims of this PDF are:

  • To establish a common understanding within WaterAid of hygiene promotion and associated terminology.
  • To highlight the importance of hygiene promotion in water and sanitation programmes and policies.
  • To give an overview of hygiene promotion approaches used in WaterAid country programmes.
  • To outline key principles and minimum commitments for WaterAid’s hygiene promotion work.