October 15 marks the annual celebration of Global Handwashing Day. Over 200 million people will be promoting one simple behavior that can save lives all over the world—handwashing with soap. Every year, 1.7 million children are killed by diarrhea and pneumonia—two diseases that can be significantly prevented through good hygiene practices. Even with the knowledge that handwashing with soap can improve health and save lives, it isn’t practiced nearly enough, and resources geared toward its promotion, necessary supplies, or facilities are inadequate.
The WASHplus project, funded by USAID, is working diligently to address the lack of infrastructure that prevents access to handwashing with soap, and promoting simple messaging around washing hands with soap at critical times. This can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under 5 by 47 percent and respiratory infections by approximately 25 percent.
Hygiene is also critical to educational achievement, ensuring that students don’t miss school due to illness; economics, through increased worker attendance and productivity; and equity, which girls gain when they are able to safely manage menstruation at school. Given the broad impact of hygiene, it is essential that handwashing facilities and behavior change programs be prioritized.
Join us in raising a hand for hygiene on Global Handwashing Day and every day! Enjoy the joyful images of handwashing activities from our project activities, where we work to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
In Mali WASHplus uses community-led total sanitation (CLTS) “plus” to spur construction of improved latrines with hand washing stations in 18 communes within three health districts in the Mopti Region. The plus component includes training local masons in advance of triggering to assist households to construct latrines through the promotion of low-cost yet robust latrine models that can withstand the rocky, high water table, or sandy conditions found in participating communities. CLTS triggering is now complete in all 180 communities in the region, resulting in 4,930 public commitments to build latrines. By late March, monitoring visits in 30 of these villages recorded 945 new latrines constructed and 557 rehabilitated, more than 95 percent of which now include hand washing stations. Local masons have begun to cut large sheets of rock into latrine slabs, which fit the Joint Monitoring Programme definition of a hygienic sanitation platform. Latrines are being constructed without the use of cement or any other nonlocal building material. Other local adaptations observed include a machinist’s design of a clever hand washing station made of iron rebar that has separate pedestals for a water dispenser and a washbowl to catch the rinse water.