Technical guide for handwashing facilities in public places and buildings

COVID-19, Hygiene
Workers at a ready-made garment factory wash hands to prevent COVID-19 having learned about importance of handwashing through hygiene behaviour training. Narayanganj, Bangladesh. 2020
Image: WaterAid/Drik/Parvez Ahmad

Hygiene behaviours, including handwashing with soap, are a first line of defence against coronavirus. As part of our COVID-19 response, we are scaling up our hygiene behaviour change programmes in 26 countries in South Asia, Africa and Latin America.

We are implementing our phased response using a do no harm approach, mostly through digital, social and mass media non-contact methods; installing handwashing facilities in public places; and ramping up our existing hygiene programmes.

Our work with governments to install handwashing facilities in a wide range of public places and buildings has been crucial to support everyone to wash their hands and reduce transmission of coronavirus. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergency of the response can result in handwashing facilities even in permanent buildings such as schools or healthcare facilities being installed rapidly, without consideration for long-term sustainability. Although a quick response is critical, plans should be made for the long-term sustainability of these facilities so they are used, maintained and do not put users at risk.

This technical guide, which is steering our COVID-19 response, provides guidance on best practice for permanent or semi-permanent handwashing facilities in public places and buildings, and shares innovation and learning from our hygiene response to date. We suggest using it in conjunction with a hygiene behaviour change intervention. While access to handwashing facilities in the home is equally important as in public spaces, we have not included it because designs tend to be different, and the responsibility for installing and maintaining them belongs to households.

We expect to revise this guide as more learning emerges on issues relating to sustainability, and to reflect updated COVID-19 guidance from the World Health Organization.