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15.10.2015 - News

Handwashing: A “do-it-yourself vaccine” that saves lives

More effort to promote the practice of handwashing

In 2015, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, citing data from 54 countries, highlighted that current levels of handwashing with soap are low in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Our project teams in the field report that people are aware of the importance, however the actual practice of handwashing with soap at critical times is inconsistent. In Colombia, for example, children have expressed that many parents and teachers do not model good practices, and handwashing stations with water and soap are lacking.

How will Terre des hommes teams work with communities to improve hygiene ?

In addition to supporting water and sanitation infrastructure, Terre des hommes has designed and tested creative ways to promote hygiene, often focusing on changing the social norm in favour of handwashing with soap. We will work in in schools, health facilities and public marketplaces in 100 municipalities via:

Public Events & Media: municipal carnivals, rallies and marches; radio programmes and billboards

Arts and Entertainment: Composition and performance of folk-tales, poetry and songs; theatre/role-play, dance and quiz-style game-shows

Education: Visual media explanation of how handwashing with soap breaks the oral-fecal cycle of disease transmission; and via colouring books and posters for children

Public Relations: Testimonies in public from national and local personalities and community members, formal workshops between local authorities and representatives of civil society

Children-led Community Outreach: Making children the official ambassadors of the events and encouraging them to share the messages with their families and in their neighbourhoods.

Hygiene is an important pillar related to health issues

In Sri Lanka, for example the project strategy calls for influencing healthy environments in schools and communities. Student members of the School Health Promotion Clubs will prepare different posters and conduct peer handwashing demonstrations. And in Bangladesh, Terre des hommes is partnering with the Department of Public Health Engineering for events through the end of October designed to reach over 100’000 persons in Kurigram District.

“Hygiene is one of the most important interventions for human health and development and it is a truly universal necessity. Hygiene is fundamental to reducing child mortality, fighting undernutrition, overcoming antibiotic resistance, and advancing access to education. Ultimately, hygiene advances gender equity, dignity, and human rights”. Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing 2015.

Every year, Terre des hommes improves the everyday lives of over two million children and their relatives. Learn more about our projects in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene.