An interconnected approach to improving handwashing behaviors

WASHplus Project in Kenya Shares Experiences in Transitioning Workshop

By George Nyairo Obanyi, FHI 360

george_obanyi1About the Author: George Nyairo Obanyi is the Information Officer for FHI 360/Kenya based in Nairobi. George provides communications support to the country office and field programs.

The USAID-funded WASHplus project ended its four years in Kenya with an experience-sharing workshop for key stakeholders held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014.

Representatives from USAID, government, other partners and community members converged for the one-day event during which the project showcased its achievements through plenary presentations, video shows and a photo gallery.

Kenya is one of seven countries where the WASHplus project works with partners to create supportive environments for healthy households and communities by creating and delivering interventions that lead to improvements in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and household air pollution.

In Kenya, the project partnered with the Ministry of Health to strengthen the capacity in public and private sectors as well as communities to implement sustainable WASH interventions.

WASHplus introduced and successfully promoted the small doable action (SDAs) concept, which has been accepted by government and other WASH actors to encourage hand washing, use of latrines, menstrual hygiene management and water treatment and safe storage.

Another key WASHplus achievement was its pioneering role in promoting inclusive sanitation approaches under an innovative, value-added community-led total sanitation (CLTSplus) approach to promote open defecation free (ODF) communties, which was successfully piloted in two rural counties and one urban site.

In its role as a national mechanism, the project helped to develop policies and training guides including a training curriculum for WASH-HIV integration and a module for training community volunteers.

Other notable achievements include:

  • Over 650 trainers from government and 8,000 CHWs trained on WASH-HIV integration and inclusive sanitation through Community Strategy
  • Improving access to sanitary pads for girls and women in communities
  • Community volunteers and leaders trained to help make supportive devices for individuals with disabilities

Interventions initiated and supported by WASHplus have now been transitioned to the government and other USAID-supported health projects.

Kenya’s deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr John Kimani addresses the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: Elisha Ratem

Kenya’s deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr John Kimani addresses the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: Elisha Ratem

Speaking at the experience-sharing workshop, the Deputy Director for Public Health at Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Dr. John Kariuki, said the WASHplus program had made strategic contributions to improving WASH interventions in the country.

“County legislators should now invest money to continue the process,” he said. “As we have worked with WASHplus, we will as a Ministry continue to give policy direction and guidelines to the counties.”

Said Dr. Kariuki: “The biggest lesson is about equity and sanitation. We cannot talk about a county being ODF if the people who are disabled or the old people are not using latrines. They are Kenyans and have a right to sanitation.”

The official urged stakeholders to lobby county governments to allocate funds for WASH activities:  “It does not happen automatically. You must be proactive, not wait for thing to happen.”

Representatives of organizations that partnered with WASHplus also praised the project for helping to shape the WASH interventions. Charles Ngira of the NGO Plan International said: “We should be talking of inclusive CLTS, not just CLTS. This model will totally solve our sanitation problem.”

Dr. Kariuki called for integrated CLTS programs that promote practices such as hand washing, menstrual hygiene management, the work of traditional birth attendants and air pollution, among other aspects.

“Let’s use CLTS as a vehicle to ensure we improve the health of our people,” he said.

“Sanitation has improved but we need to address equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Mores Loopapit, deputy project director of the USAID-funded APHIAplus Imarisha. “There is need to consider health outcomes in studies on access to hygiene and sanitation.”

Simon Makori, associate director of APHIAplus Nuru ya Bonde, urged stakeholders to support community health volunteers because they play a critical role on promoting WASH practices.

“Community health workers should be engaged in income-generating activities for sustainability,” he said.

For more information about the project, visit the WASHplus Kenya page:

Pic6_Charles Odira

Pic-4_Makena presents

Pic6_Charles Odira

Update from UNGA and TEDMED: Handwashing, Partnerships, Integration and Innovation

by Layla McCay

Cropped_headshot_reasonably_smallAbout the author: Dr. Layla McCay is the Director of the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) Secretariat, housed at FHI 360. The USAID-funded WASHPlus Project supports the PPPHW in its efforts to promote handwashing and hygiene improvement. Follow Layla on Twitter: @LaylaMcCay

Partnerships and integration were the buzz words surrounding the UN General Assembly in New York in September. The Public Private Partnership for Handwashing secretariat delved into the deluge of international development players, with the purpose of seeking opportunities for handwashing, and learning about current issues in partnerships for international development.

A key message being reiterated in the development community over the course of UN General Assembly week is that as a community, we are becoming ‘post-public-private-divide’. There is increasing appreciation of the synergies and complementary roles of the different sectors, and an appetite to bring all players together to maximize impact. While that can be easier said than done, tendencies to either sanctify or vilify different sectors or particular players were deemed outdated; instead, the focus this September was on the benefits of working together to inspire and drive better practices all around. In terms of business, there was recognition that social good is starting to move out of the CSR/philanthropy departments to become business as usual, a business investment in efficiency and sustainability – which means we should expect more public-private partnering. Indeed, looking towards the successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are expected to be key drivers of the multi-sector partnerships that will be needed to deliver them.

Another persistent message during ‘UNGA’ was the importance of integration, as opposed to programming in silos. In the context of handwashing, this means exploring opportunities to integrate handwashing programs ‘horizontally’ into a range of sectors, such as sanitation, nutrition, maternal and child health, healthcare, HIV/AIDS, education, gender empowerment, economic development… but also considering how to integrate ‘vertically’, across the enabling environment, including investment in infrastructure and the social determinants of health. This approach is about harnessing the power of cross-sectoral partnerships to address a range of development challenges being experienced by a population, rather than focusing on single issues. It was striking how many of our development colleagues believed the barrier to meaningful, strategic integration was not just the practicalities of integrating on the ground, but the ‘single issue’ nature of funding for international development. For example, investing in school uniforms may help girls attend school – but to keep them in school, investing in menstrual hygiene materials and facilities may be needed too, but these two interventions may have entirely different funders and programs. The “celebrity couple” of nutrition and hygiene came up repeatedly, with the implication that this “couple” should think about taking their relationship to the next level, with greater integration of nutrition and hygiene work.

Integration across sectors for health promotion was also a theme at the TEDMED conference, which I got the opportunity to attend in September. You can read my general write-up of the whole event here. In terms of food for thought regarding handwashing, there was a compelling discussion about refreshing and diversifying messaging for health promotion. Using the example of breastfeeding promotion, one speaker noted that messages about breastfeeding for babies’ health are important but as these messages become increasingly familiar to people, they (a) risk losing their impact, and (b) only engage a subset of people. However by diversifying the messages to also make breastfeeding a women’s health issue, and a heart health issue (focusing on how breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of obesity and heart disease), new lines of engagement are opened, with the opportunity for new champions, new messages, new incentives, greater reach, more targeted appeal, and hopefully more uptake of the behavior. There may be useful lessons for diversifying hygiene messages to expand impact.

My first experience of seeing a ‘celebrity handwashing champion’ in action came in the form of Kajol, at Unilever’s Help a Child Reach 5 hygiene event with USAID. Her messages were simple, but her presence created a clear buzz. In addition to the keen interest of press in the room, some of whom told me they were there specifically to see her, it was interesting to see Kajol’s legions of fan clubs and fans around the world picking up and retweeting her handwashing messages (a tweet I sent about her reached over 100,000 people). This was an interesting insight into the potential reach of handwashing promotion messages from strategically selected and deployed celebrity champions.

Finally, the use of technology to improve hygiene is always an interesting question, and it tends to come up on these forward-looking platforms. It was inspiring, for example, to see examples from Unilever and MAMA of how mobile phones can be used to deliver hygiene education directly to pregnant women. At TEDMED, there was also some interesting discussion about crowdfunding health – using the web to set up facilities like Kickstarter to enable the public to directly fund specific health interventions in specific places. With the Millennials embracing this sort of targeted giving, there could be some interesting opportunities for crowdfunding hygiene in future. Throughout the events, there was significant talk about harnessing the voice, experiences, ideas, and energy of youth to drive progress.

TEDMED: 50 ideas that might just change the face of health around the world


About the author: Layla McCay is a medical doctor and global health specialist, with a special interest in global health technology and innovation. She has worked across health policy sectors, from the World Health Organization and the World Bank to International NGOs and the British Government. She teaches international health at Georgetown University. You can find her on Twitter @LaylaMcCay

This post first appeared on the National Geographic blog here.

The most common overheard comment during TEDMED was “that could be a game-changer.”

The question of what exactly makes a “game-changer” is open to interpretation. Which of the nearly fifty ideas presented on the TEDMED stage this year will turn out to change the face of health and healthcare depends on where they spread, who receives them, and what is done with them. Since the game in question is health, our lives could depend on the outcome.

Opening the mind is an essential theme for a conference like TEDMED. Physicians were challenged as being ‘species snobs’ for failing to harness the knowledge of veterinarians to better understand and treat diseases in humans – and were entreated to use the animal kingdom, and diverse industries, to inspire innovations – like re-appropriating porcupine quills to seal wounds, or air bags for elderly people whose falls put them at risk of breaking a hip.

TEDMED’s speakers called for better detective skills to track down the true causes of ill health, from epidemics to drug abuse. Few threats to our health are new, so the typical question: ‘Why has this invader come amongst us?’ could perhaps become ‘Why is this pre-existing threat causing problems specifically here, now, to these people?’ That’s why an outbreak of dengue fever in Florida could be superficially attributed to the influx of dengue-carrying mosquitos from elsewhere – or attributed to a side effect of the recession (stagnant water in swimming pools expanding dengue mosquito breeding grounds, for example).

Jeffrey Karp, TEDMED. Photo courtesy Layla McCay
Jeffrey Karp, TEDMED. Photo courtesy Layla McCay

Opening our minds is not the only route our brains can take to better health. There are unexploited opportunities to harness how our brains work to make us healthier, whether you want to call it trickery or sophisticated brain stimulation. It turns out that if we take a pill that contains nothing but sugar, known as a placebo, it can still help cure our diseases – even if we know it’s a placebo. This effect could be harnessed to help heal our bodies from a range of illnesses. We can also try more sleep – there’s a theory that this might just help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, thanks to triggering the brain’s nightly bout of spring cleaning. And it seems we can heal better and feel better, just by adjusting our background light and the sounds we hear, especially in hospitals.

We can also use our brains to turn information into real life choices that promote health. For example, it is common knowledge that breastfeeding is healthy for babies, but less is made of the fact that breastfeeding is also healthier for mothers, reducing their risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. On the other side of health promotion, rather than waiting for a resolution to the gun control debate, tech solutions could be adopted right now to reduce gun crime, like automatically stamping registered gun owner details onto bullets as they are fired. Technology can also help reduce ill health caused by healthcare – like a non-reusable syringe that helps prevent the many infections such as HIV caused by health workers all over the world reusing needles with different people, without sterilization in between patients. TEDMED Chairman, Jay Walker, explained that while the T in TEDMED stands for technology, “technology is not an answer – it’s a tool.”

But tools are needed in a health care delivery system that is driven by humanity. Doctors are not perfect machines: they have their own views and ethical values and skills and flaws, and are, by definition, fallible. Expecting homogeneity or perfection can be dangerous – recognizing the inevitability of error should be leading not to blame and shame, but to designing better safeguards.

But then again, the population is not perfect either. The requirement for legal organ donation to be entirely altruistic makes it a niche choice – and contributes to the huge organ shortage in places like the US. There are pros and cons, but perhaps there are lessons to be learned from Iran, where live organ donors are apparently honored, cared for and compensated, ensuring an influx of donors, meaning nobody who needs a new kidney has to die without one.

And as for patients, perhaps allowing themselves to be defined by an illness for too long may be a natural response to trauma, but it may also inhibit their recovery. And instead of trying to emulate ‘normal’, another, positive option is to boldly embrace differences, from the alternative thinking styles autism can bring, to festooning a prosthetic limb in chrome, glitter, or art.

Sophie de Oliveira-Barata, TEDMED. Photo courtesy Layla McCay
Sophie de Oliveira-Barata, TEDMED. Photo courtesy Layla McCay

Finally, TEDMED reminds its delegates that knowledge is fleeting, not eternal – what is once believed to be true may be later disproved. So we should avoid rigidity in our beliefs and keep asking questions. It is, perhaps, this thought that drives all innovation – and making us all understand this may be the real game-changer at TEDMED.

WASHplus Kenya End of Project Experience Sharing Workshop and Report

From January 2010 to September 2014 WASHplus worked with the Kenyan government to generate demand for sanitation; improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices among all households; and introduce simple supportive technologies to vulnerable households. The project supported the Ministry of Health (MOH) and its partners to integrate improved WASH practices into HIV policies, programs, and training. To do so WASHplus worked within existing structures under the MOH, such as the departments of Environmental Health, Sanitation and Community Health Services and the National AIDS and STI Control Program, as well as with other U.S. government bilateral partners—the APHIAplus projects and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partners.

The two WASHplus program components—integrating WASH into HIV and advancing improved sanitation uptake—worked together to improve WASH practices across Kenya. The program objectives were to:

  • Assist government and NGO programs in Kenya to integrate improved WASH practices into HIV policies and programs, with special emphasis on inclusive approaches
  • Support uptake of improved sanitation practices using a community-led total sanitation (CLTS)-plus approach
  • Help to build a vibrant private sector to address demand for sanitation especially focused on quality latrines that meet minimum standards

What started as an activity to integrate sanitation and hygiene practices into HIV/AIDS care and support programs has grown over the years into a holistic approach to prevent diarrhea among households at risk. USAID’s WASHplus project helped communities and households in Kenya make the connection between improved sanitation, healthy hygiene habits, and positive outcomes for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV), their families, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable households. Along the way WASHplus technical support, participatory training, partner engagement, and behavior change efforts yielded valuable lessons for other countries battling to improve sanitation and health outcomes in the context of uncertain funding. Innovation, flexibility, and commitment to working hand-in-hand with the government proved to be keys to the project’s success. With the government’s endorsement and adoption of WASHplus’s signature approach, small doable actions are likely to continue to resonate with many audiences long after the WASHplus transition.

On September 24th the WASHplus Kenya project held an end-of-project experience-sharing workshop in Nairobi. Photos from the workshop are presented below. The WASHplus Kenya end-of-project report “Integrating WASH into HIV Interventions and Advancing Improved Sanitation Uptake” can be downloaded from the WASHplus website.

Pic2 -Dr John Kariuki

Kenya’s deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr John Kimani addresses the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: Elisha Ratem

Kenya’s deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr John Kimani addresses the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: Elisha Ratem

Kenya’s deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr John Kimani addresses the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: Elisha Ratem

Caroline Vata, a government public health officer, presents a case study during the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop  of in Nairobi September 25th 2014. Photo: George Obanyi

Caroline Vata, a government public health officer, presents a case study during the WASHplus Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: George Obanyi

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Evelyn Makena, WASHplus manager in Kenya, makes a presentation during the end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014. Photo: George Obanyi

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Charles Odira of Plan International makes a point during the plenary session of an experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th, 2014 to enable other partners scale up its approaches. Photo: Elisha Ratemo

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A community health volunteer admires his own photo displayed in  gallery showcasing achievements of WASHplus program in Kenya. This was during the Kenya end-of-project experience-sharing workshop held in Nairobi on September 25th 2014 to enable other partners scale up its approaches. Photo: Elisha Ratemo

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Public Health Officer James Yatich explains about a commode he improvised for chronically ill patients. The innovation was displayed in a gallery showing the works of WASHplus program in Kenya over the past four years. Photo: Elisha Ratemo

Communities of Practice are a SPLASH Best Practice!

sarah fry thumbnail

by Sarah Fry

About the Author: Sarah Fry is a Senior Hygiene and School WASH Advisor with the USAID funded WASHplus Project. She manages the USAID-funded SPLASH program in Zambia and an urban hygiene improvement program in Benin.

Creating communities of practice (COP) within SPLASH (the Schools Promoting Learning Achievement through Hygiene and Sanitation project implemented through WASHplus) has moved from talk to action, as the “Task 2 – Software” Community of Practice held its first meeting in Chadiza District from 26 to 28 August.  I arrived in Zambia on Saturday and was cheerfully informed that we would travel to Chadiza on Monday to attend this meeting.  If you look on the map of Zambia, Chadiza is in Eastern Province below Chipata, hugging Mozambique.  It took a good 12 hours to arrive there, but what a treat to get to know SPLASH’s latest district.  Formerly a true outpost even for Zambia, there are signs that Chadiza is growing and developing.  New road grading and construction envelopes the town in dust during this dry season, and it was hot. The hotel we stayed at was paint-not-dry new but had almost all the basics.

The SPLASH Chadiza team l to r: •Chimunya Hambote, SPLASH district coordinator and engineer •Boas Banda, DEBS Chipata •Oscar Zulu, Asst DRCC, Chadiza •Boyd Hakubeja, SPLASH HBCT, Chadiza

The SPLASH Chadiza team l to r: Chimunya Hambote, SPLASH district coordinator and engineer; Boas Banda, DEBS Chipata; Oscar Zulu, Asst DRCC, Chadiza • Boyd Hakubeja, SPLASH HBCT, Chadiza

The community of practice that gathered from all districts included three SPLASH Hygiene Behavior Change Technicians (HBCTs) with a Ministry of Education (MOE) staff member sitting in for Mayombo from Lundazi District, who was out on maternity leave.  The HBCTs were joined by the District Resource Center Coordinators (DRCCs), also from MOE and in charge of rolling out teacher in-service training in the districts. DRCCs have become indispensable members of the SPLASH team as SPLASH has shifted nearly all school WASH training, behavior change and mobilization activities through the existing teacher in service system called SPRINT (School Program for In-service for a Term)of the MOE.  This ensures an institutional home for integration of WASH themes in teaching and learning.

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Chief of Party Justin Lupele walking the group through “What is a Community of Practice”

To start us off, SPLASH Chief of Party Justin Lupele reviewed what exactly a CoP is (coincidental acronyms!).  Then the group launched into presentations by district on what has been accomplished in the software programs associated with SPLASH.  Highlights (and there were many!) were the extent to which schools have been supported in becoming WASH friendly through the School-Led Total Sanitation process, how thoroughly WASH teaching and training is being rolled out through the SPRINT system, and how far the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program has advanced in the districts.  For example, MHM has been included in district and provincial MOE strategic plans, and many schools are stocking emergency sanitary pads.

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Mrs. Margaret “Mai” Mapata, DRCC/Chipata and queen of MHM and fun learning and teaching activities

But what really inspired everybody was the Chipata team’s account of the first ever MHM Mini Exhibition organized by “Mai” Mapata as Ms. Margaret Mapata is fondly called, James Nyirenda and Emory University intern Kylie Saunders.  The exhibition was held for parents, students and teachers from a number of schools around Chipata town, and offered booths with informational displays on the basics of menstruation and on good nutrition during menstruation, MHM themed games and teaching and learning aids with MHM themes.  One of the most popular stations was on reusable pad making, and among the most enthusiastic pad makers were…boys!  They were thrilled to be fully included and several said that they were eager to show their sisters how to make pads.

After hearing about the success of this event, the others in the COP decided to hold their own.  And this is how the three days went – as districts explained how they approached challenges or tried a new way of doing something, the others took note.  There was much hallway chatting in the evening as members of the COP questioned each other about how they managed different aspects of the program.

The next days were devoted to highlighting and analyzing successes and challenges encountered in rolling out the hygiene behavior change program, leading to decisions about actions and activities in the upcoming final SPLASH year.  A recurring theme to the challenges was how to move from information to action, knowledge to practice.  Another was how to build on what has been created, such as pupil WASH clubs and PTA WASH committees, and supporting these entities to becomes truly functional and autonomous.  These two themes generated much honest soul-searching and discussion, and a commitment to try out promising strategies with these ends in mind.

The COP workshop was held at the Chadiza Resource Center, a comfortable room with interesting teaching aids and posters all over, located on the grounds of Chadiza Primary and Secondary schools where SPLASH is intervening.  As luck would have it, SPLASH was also holding training for Area Pump Menders on the school grounds, where the school pump was conveniently on its last creaky legs.  We watched and applauded as the group of new pump menders gathered round and brought the ailing school pump back to life.

At the end of the three days together, there was no doubt that a true Community of Practice had taken root.  Now we will sit back and watch as branches and blossoms sprout, and as the connection continue via social media and other channels.  WhatsApp, Facebook anyone?

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Chadiza Area Pump Menders training, Chadiza Primary School

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Female APM during training, Chadiza

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The SPLASH “Software” Community of Practice, l to r: • Davison Phiri, DRCC Mambwe • Boyd Hakubeja, HBCT/Chadiza • Febby Busika, SPLASH Regional Director • Justin Lupele, SPLASH Chief of Party • Doris Kanyerere, SPLASH Provincial Finance Officer and WASH in school champion • James Nyirenda, HBCT/Chipata and Mr. MHM • Abigail Changaya, DRCC/Lundazi • Musenga, SPLASH administrative assistant and driver • Romakala Banda, HBCT/Mambwe • Margaret “Mai” Mapata, RDCC/Chipata • Oscar Zulu, Assistant DRCC/Chadiza

Thoughts from SWWW: What Next for Handwashing?

 Hanna photo 2by Hanna Woodburn

About the author: Hanna Woodburn is the Deputy Secretariat Director, Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). Follow her on Twitter @WASH_Hanna.

I’ve been at the 2014 Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) for over three days now. As someone solidly in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector, I’ve found the conference to be an interesting mix of people with a wide range of interests and technical backgrounds. In addition to my own session on the role of hygiene in achieving the full benefits of water investment, I’ve attended sessions on gender, inequity, WASH service deliver in emergencies, and more. These are my reflections both from these sessions and the many conversations that I have had with other attendees. 

First, while much energy has been devoted by the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) and others to the promotion of hygiene at the policy level, there are is a knowledge gap within the larger sector as to the definition and role of hygiene in development. And it’s true: hygiene can encompass many different specifics, such as menstrual hygiene management, food hygiene, facewashing, toothbrushing, and of course handwashing with soap. These behaviors, and their supporting “hardware”, such as materials and facilities, can be quite different from one another. They have different evidence bases, different measurements, and different challenges. This was a good reminder that there is more that we need to do within the hygiene sector to better communicate, educate, and advocate – not only at the global level, but also amongst our colleagues in the water and sanitation  sector. 

Secondly, a word about working within a system. My favorite session thus far was convened by the GermanWASH Network and the German Federal Foreign Office on the subject of streamlining strategies for humanitarian aid within the WASH sector. This session included  a robust discussion on the role of governments, INGOs, and local actors in delivering WASH services within the humanitarian context. While there were many valid and salient points raised, this session for me emphasized the role that hygiene plays within a larger system. We actively work to promote integration of hygiene within correlate sectors, such as nutrition and education, but hygiene is also embedded within a context. And that context influences not only what program, but how, and what we measure. There isn’t a “magic bullet” or a “one size fits all” approach to hygiene behavior change. We need flexibility. 

Finally, I’ve been struck by the number of people who have mentioned the need to move from conversation to action. There’s a great emphasis within the sector on ensuring that we not only have evidence, that we have perfect evidence, before moving to action. This can have an unintended consequence of stifling innovation and reducing our willingness to take risks. To be clear, I am certainly not advocating for acting foolishly, or minimizing the importance of strong evidence, but there is a feeling that there needs to be more room for failure and a greater aptitude for trying and doing, rather than being overly cautious where our knowledge is imperfect. Indeed, even projects that aren’t successful can contribute to our knowledge base about handwashing promotion and behavior change. PPPHW can contribute to innovation leadership within the hygiene sector. 

I’m excited to take these and other learnings from the conference and apply them to our work in handwashing advocacy and knowledge leadership.

Global Handwashing Day is just around the corner….ready, set, plan! 


This blog post is authored by Hanna Washburn. Hanna is the Deputy Secretariat Director for the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). Follow Hanna on Twitter @WASH_Hanna.

Each year, on October 15, over two hundred million people gather together in countries around the world and celebrate Global Handwashing Day. This international day of advocacy and action shines a spotlight on the state of handwashing in each country or community where it is celebrated and helps to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing.  Why such a big focus on handwashing? This simple action, when practiced regularly can significantly reduce the risk of illness and death from diarrheal disease and pneumonia. With 1.7 million children dying from these causes each year, we certainly think that is a reason to celebrate!

To help individuals and organizations plan Global Handwashing Day celebrations in their community, region, or country, the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing has developed a Planner’s Guide. This year, the Planner’s Guide was updated to reflect the changing nature of Global Handwashing Day celebrations and the corresponding needs of planners.

Based on consultations with partners and others who have utilized the guide, we have attempted to create an updated guide that is action-oriented and provides planners with resources and inspiration to help as they implement a successful Global Handwashing Day celebration, and to encourage handwashing promotion throughout the year.

Those who have used the Planner’s Guide in years past will be familiar with the overall structure of the document; indeed, some sections such as the Five Facts about Handwashing are still very much the same. The biggest changes are found in the hands-on portion of the Guide. Here planners will find a step-by-step guide to planning an event, which is supplemented by fact boxes, event ideas, and tips for success. The annexes feature ideas for celebrations depending on the audience, an event planning checklist, facts about handwashing, and more.

Whether you’ve celebrated Global Handwashing Day for years, or this is your first, we hope that the Planner’s Guide will have provide you with the tools and ideas necessary to make your event a success. Let us know how it goes by uploading pictures and stories to our interactive, online map. And don’t forget, always wash your hands with soap!

Falling in Love All Over Again

“Life in rural Zambia is unbearable.” This is the story that is always heard among newly trained teachers who are posted in rural areas. This reaction is due to the perception that rural schools have poor or inadequate water and sanitation facilities. 

Mr. and Mrs. Fwankila, teachers at Chamsebe Primary School who have been married for two years, have a different story. When they were first posted at this school in the Lundazi District in late 2013, they did not know what to expect because they have spent most of their time in urban Lusaka.

When they arrived at the school, Mrs. Fwankila was surprised but relieved to hear that their official house was almost completed. The second thing she asked to see was the latrine, which according to her is very important and critical to her stay at the school. Each time she goes to a new place the first thing she looks out for is a toilet because she values clean facilities coupled with availability of safe and clean water. “I also love my family too much to expose them to unhygienic environments,” she said.

She sighed with relief when she saw a row of ventilated improved pit latrines. She later learned that the latrines were constructed by SPLASH, a USAID-supported project.

“I want to applaud USAID/SPLASH for the great work that they are doing. They have made my stay in Lundazi easy and very comfortable because of their facilities. I don’t complain about drinking contaminated water because of the water pump, which is available. Because of this I am always revitalized and energized to carry out my duties in the school because I have clean water, a clean latrine, and I know that even the pupils that I teach are well taken care of. This has helped me to spend more time in school thus increasing contact time between me and the pupils,” she says. The new facilities have contributed to helping young girls who have reached puberty to stay in school throughout the term, a phenomena that is unheard of in other schools.

Mrs. Fwankila explains, “The availability of water and sanitation facilities has made me not to see any big difference between rural and urban areas. My husband and I don’t even miss living in the city. We are much happier and spend a lot of time together. We will forever remain grateful to USAID /SPLASH facilities.”

Mr. Fwankila was quick to add, “My wife and I have fallen in love all over again because we have much more time to spend together. We don’t have to go long distances looking for water. SPLASH has brought clean and safe water right at our doorstep. We have a clean house, a backyard garden, and we love our new community.”

USAID/SPLASH continues to impact schools and communities in eastern Zambia by building latrines and installing boreholes, water tanks, drinking water, and hand washing stations, making sure that hygiene is a regular practice. The project has provided WASH facilities in 337 schools and its program has reached over 260,000 children.


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