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Taking time machine back to 2014: What could have been done differently?

October 26th 2020 at 08:40

In 2014, the Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Léo Heller as the second Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. After six years, his second … Read more

The post Taking time machine back to 2014: What could have been done differently? appeared first on UN-Water.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

A WASH update from USAID Water CKM

October 22nd 2020 at 14:20

The purpose of this informal research update is to highlight some of the most recent WASH sector studies and resources by USAID and others. Please send links to recent or upcoming studies and events that you would like to feature in upcoming issues. We welcome your suggestions to make the updates more useful.  This biweekly features:

  • Globalwaters.org updates
  • Other USAID updates
  • Events
  • Water quality/water security studies
  • Health studies
  • Sanitation studies
  • WASH & COVID-19 updates

USAID Global Water and Development Report FY 2018–2019. USAID, October 2020. During the first two years of the U.S. Global Water Strategy implementation (Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019), USAID provided $835 million to support water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) activities in 51 countries.

What Does it Take to Sustain Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Outcomes? Lessons from Six Ex-Post Evaluations. USAID Water CKM Team, October 2020. Through its commitment to identifying sustainable approaches to WASH, USAID commissioned a series of six ex-post evaluations of its WASH activities completed three to 10 years prior. These studies identified what outcomes had been sustained years later and why. Link to the October 22, 2020 webinar.

USAID Water and Development Technical Series. These technical briefs provide guidance on important topics for developing and implementing water and sanitation activities in support of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID’s plan under the strategy. Technical Briefs are available on: Rural Water Services, Rural Sanitation Services, WASH and Its Links to Nutrition, Gender Equality and Female Empowerment in WASH, and Urban Sanitation Services.

USAID Transform WASH: Ethiopia’s Business Environment and Business and How It Influences WASH Market Development. IRC WASH, September 2020. This Learning Note explores challenges in the private sector enabling environment and highlights opportunities for growth and investment in the WASH sector. Additional Learning Notes


Sharing water in Rwanda’s breadbasket

October 22nd 2020 at 08:49

In Nyagatare district – known as Rwanda’s breadbasket – the farmers rear livestock and cultivate crops such as maize and rice, but they suffer a long dry season stretching from … Read more

The post Sharing water in Rwanda’s breadbasket appeared first on UN-Water.

Over 100 civil society organisations stand behind UN Special Rapporteur Léo Heller, denounce private water industry interference

October 21st 2020 at 16:45
By: editor
Over 100 civil society organisations stand behind UN Special Rapporteur Léo Heller, denounce private water industry interference editor 21 October 2020 - 17:45

What it takes to build a sanitation market: USAID Transform WASH and the plastic toilet slab in Ethiopia

October 19th 2020 at 14:15

Introducing the plastic toilet slab to the Ethiopian market takes time, patience and tenacity as the USAID Transform WASH project experiences.

 Plastic slabs

The ultimate goal of building WASH markets is to achieve ever expanding, self-sustaining household access to and demand for new products and services. Most customers should be able to afford a range of products that suit their particular needs in improving their facilities and preventing the spread of disease. Market facilitation is what USAID Transform WASH is all about, but it takes time, patience, and tenacity. Nothing exemplifies this more than our nearly three-year experience introducing the plastic toilet slab to the Ethiopian market. It started out with typical testing and readying the market for the product, but in the end, it was about building the confidence of the manufacturer to jump over hurdles thrown in their path by Ethiopia's business climate.

Advantages of the plastic latrine slab

Plastic latrine slabs serve several key purposes for household customers. They are lightweight, thus easy and relatively inexpensive to transport even to distant rural areas. They are durable, attractive, simple to install in new or retrofitted latrines, and easy to keep clean. Fitted with an attached lid and swivel hinge, they can be kept covered when not in use, thus the toilet stays fresh, and disease-spreading flies and other insects are kept out. Finally, they don't require water to flush, which is an advantage in water-stressed areas.

So what held the product back for so long?

It's a typical market development conundrum. First, you need the product itself, one that no one has heard of let alone planned to buy. And second, you need a manufacturer and other market players willing to take risks and invest in this product with no demand. This is the case in the easiest of markets, let alone a challenging one like Ethiopia (more on that later).

Ideally, the product would be manufactured locally to reduce costs and minimize the price to consumers such that demand will grow quickly and produce a healthy return for all businesses in the supply chain (the definition of a successful business model). But, as I mentioned, establishment of local manufacturing by any interested business requires significant investment and appetite for risk. One way to prove the viability of the product would be to import a number of units and test the market. However, high customs duties, other taxes and fees, and transportation costs dramatically increase the retail price, which could kill the product before it's born. Considering these risks, an importer has to be interested in introducing the product but also have access to enough foreign currency to purchase and import a shipment – on top of everything, a very difficult, if not impossible, ask.

In the case of the plastic latrine slab, the product and manufacturer do exist. The Silafrica corporation, an East African business, has been manufacturing slabs in neighboring Kenya since 2016. The original product design process was led and funded by the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) in collaboration with the US-based user-centered design firm, Ideo, with refinements completed by Silafrica itself, one of two manufacturers selected to produce the slabs (the second dropped out before getting started). Silafrica also has operations in Ethiopia and, with the encouragement of Transform WASH, was willing to consider manufacturing the product here. But Silafrica needed a few things first, which it didn't have the resources to acquire on its own:

1. Sales projections to understand market potential and viability;
2. An initial import of 1,500 units to test the market;
3. Support for establishing a supply chain and business and consumer demand.

What investments would Silafrica itself have to make if they were to produce slabs in Ethiopia?

Plastics manufacturing requires molds to be manufactured first, and the capacity to produce these molds does not yet exist in the country, so they would have to be procured from abroad and imported. Molds for these kinds of products typically cost somewhere in the range of US $25,000-50,000. On the positive side, Ethiopia has established favorable tax arrangements for import of materials for local manufacturing (or so we thought), but Silafrica would incur shipping costs and would need to secure enough scarce foreign currency to buy the molds. Unfortunately, the government does not extend preferential treatment to this category of foreign currency request.

To make things somewhat easier, Silafrica made an internal decision, which took some time to reach, to import existing molds from their plant in Kenya. Of course, this was subject to obtaining enough foreign currency for an intra-company purchase – in addition to the support that they had requested from Transform WASH. First, as mentioned above, they wanted our help to assess the market. Within a year and a half of the launch of T/WASH, we had established operations throughout the largest regions of the country. Our business development teams in the field had established partnerships with businesses large and small, from regional distributors to retailers, local construction companies to sole proprietors, such as masons, all of whom committed to attaining the skills and materials required to offer new, innovative sanitation products and installation services.

We had already done market assessments in all of these areas and were building demand for new sanitation products through marketing support for our business partners and market-focused WASH communication by government health extension workers. This broad platform enabled us to put together for Silafrica a projection of sales volumes across our areas of operation. Also, in response to their third request, we could offer them connections to supply chains and the local business partnerships that we had established for other products and services that T/WASH had been introducing to the market.

Silafrica's second request proved to be the most difficult. We ruled out commercial importation of the first 1,500 units due to the import challenges described earlier, which would have involved insurmountable business risk and establishment of a consumer price far out of reach of most target households. With the support of USAID and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, T/WASH was able to import the products duty free to allow us to test the market free of the usual market pressure to earn some profit. Thus, the retail price could come in somewhat close to the level estimated through local manufacturing.

Checking the plastic slabs

Barely enough currency to keep going

The T/WASH team sold the plastic slabs to regional distributors, who in turn sold them to hardware retailers in select districts of the country. The initial consumer price was set at 700 Ethiopian birr (ETB, or approximately US $23) to cover all costs, including transportation. Frustratingly, at this first price, the product barely moved, even with demand-creation activities. As Silafrica's price estimate for locally manufactured product was between 450-500 ETB, we lowered the price to 550 ETB ($18), and they sold out in two months.

Sufficiently satisfied with test market performance, Silafrica was ready to commit to importing the molds and beginning production of plastic slabs in Ethiopia. They hoped to produce up to 10,000 units per month to start. But the strict rationing of foreign currency in the country stymied their commitment for months. Silafrica was barely able to acquire enough currency to keep their core business afloat, let alone invest in importing the molds for a risky venture.

As time went by, Silafrica asked for more assurances that their investment would be worth it. They requested not only updated projections (by this point, T/WASH had scaled up to all eight regions of the country), but they wanted actual distributor orders, as well. Fortunately, demand had been established through the successful test market, so T/WASH was able to collect orders to Silafrica's satisfaction, enough to justify the initial production plan. Finally, in June 2020, the slab molds arrived from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, and Silafrica began readying their newly built production facility to manufacture the first batch of 5,000-10,000 units.

But there was a final glitch. Silafrica had applied to the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) for duty-free import of the molds. But the application was rejected because of a regulation that requires a company to have 50 permanent Ethiopian nationals on its staff to qualify; Silafrica has just over 40. Upon import, a duty of about $46,000 was assessed on the molds. Silafrica appealed the decision, but in the end the appeal was rejected, and they were forced to pay. Sadly, the loser will be customers, who will end up paying the duty as Silafrica recovers the expense through a higher product price. In the end, while the government's objective of increasing employment is a worthy one, promoting overall local business growth is more likely to generate jobs than requiring a minimum number of employees when they're not needed.

In a last bit of good news, Silafrica informed us that they've decided to use what they call "regrind" plastic to produce the slabs, which involves repurposing waste from other product manufacturing processes. This means that no additional foreign currency will be needed as all inputs will be locally produced, and in addition to repurposing of manufacturing waste, any broken product can be recovered from the market and recycled, as well. Yet the product features nearly the same strength and appearance as that produced with "virgin" plastic.

Production has begun, and we'll know soon how the market performs. But if the enthusiasm of our business development team, district health offices, and business partners is any indication, the product is poised for an outstanding commercial launch in Ethiopia. Stay tuned!


About Transform WASH

USAID Transform WASH aims to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) outcomes in Ethiopia by increasing market access to and sustained use of a broader spectrum of affordable WASH products and services, with a substantial focus on sanitation.
Transform WASH achieves this by transforming the market for low-cost quality WASH products and services: stimulating demand at the community level, strengthening supply chains, and improving the enabling environment for a vibrant private market.

USAID Transform WASH is a USAID-funded activity implemented by PSI in collaboration with SNV, Plan International, and IRC WASH. The consortium is working closely with government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the One WASH National Program, and regional and sub-regional governments.




Women as business leaders

October 20th 2020 at 06:36
By: tsegay

This learning note is focused on the gender dynamics in WASH business and it informs action points to enhance women's roles in the sector. 

This learning note is intended to create a better understanding on the gender dynamics in business through documentation of key learnings from the USAID Transform WASH Activity which will in turn inform action points to enhance women's roles in the sector. The study employed comparative approaches to engaging both male and female entrepreneurs to explore the unique challenges encountered by women involved in businesses that offer WASH products and services

USAID Transform WASH – Learning notes overview

October 19th 2020 at 11:27

This is an overview of learning notes produced for the USAID Transform WASH project.

Making a toilet slab in Ethiopia

USAID Transform WASH aims to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) outcomes in Ethiopia by increasing market access to and sustained use of a broader spectrum of affordable WASH products and services, with a substantial focus on sanitation.

Transform WASH achieves this by transforming the market for low-cost quality WASH products and services: stimulating demand at the community level, strengthening supply chains, and improving the enabling environment for a vibrant private market.

USAID Transform WASH is a USAID-funded activity implemented by PSI in collaboration with SNV, Plan International, and IRC WASH. The consortium is working closely with government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the One WASH National Program, and regional and sub-regional governments.

A number of publications have been written to document the lessons learnt.

Learning notes by theme

Strengthening supply chain:

Supply chain is about designing and introducing desirable and affordable sanitation products and services. The following learning notes have been published on this topic:

Stimulating demand:

If there is no demand, there is no selling, no matter how many sanitation products and services are available. The following document goes into this:

Improving the enabling environment:

There needs to be a focus on improving the regulatory and institutional framework of the business climate.


An assessment of sanitation financing options for enterprises and households

October 16th 2020 at 07:13

This learning note summarizes the findings of a study undertaken of the financing approaches used under the USAID Transform WASH activity, which was conducted to better understand their performance and how they compared to other viable approaches.

World Toilet Day 2020: Sustainable sanitation and climate change

October 19th 2020 at 09:13

World Toilet Day, 19th November, celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the … Read more

The post World Toilet Day 2020: Sustainable sanitation and climate change appeared first on UN-Water.

She Makes Change - an update

October 19th 2020 at 09:09

COVID-19 has forced the women in Odisha to postpone the workshops that IRC raised funds for during the 'She Makes Change' campaign.

Women have more acute needs due to cultural and biological roles, and a lack of services is often at the cost of their health, education, employment and participation in politics and society. Therefore, it is important that women have a say in WASH decision making. On the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8th 2020, IRC raised funds for women to ensure their voices were heard.

The ‘She Makes Change’ campaign successfully raised €2,868.25 for capacity building of women in the state of Odisha in India. The funds will be used to organise a series of workshops to provide foundational knowledge and skills to women in Ganjam district of Odisha, to enable them to assert their rights as citizens and participate in local government decision making.

Originally scheduled to be held in the months of June and July 2020, these workshops have not yet been organised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of corona cases in India has been on the rise since early this year. At 7,307,097, India is currently the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. However, in terms of number of daily cases, it has the highest in the world (on 15 October).

The strict lockdown enforced by the Government of India in March 2020 gave rise to a wave of reverse migration. A significant proportion of the working age population in Ganjam works as migrants in the textile mills of Surat in the state of Gujarat. With the closure of the mills, high rate of infection, loss of employment and poor living conditions in the industrial town, the migrants returned to Ganjam. It is estimated that over a million migrants returned to the district in the pandemic.

The return of the migrants to Ganjam has led to a massive surge in corona cases in the state of Odisha, making Ganjam the non-capital hot spot in July, with a peak of over 700 cases in a day. To date, the district has recorded over 20,000 cases, with 29 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours at the time of writing. The return of the migrants has increased stress on the limited health infrastructure in the district as well as on the resources.

Considering these conditions, the leadership workshops have been postponed to next year. It must be added here that, the pandemic has also reinforced the need for skill training. Handwashing with soap is one of the easiest precautions against the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID -19. Access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene services is thus essential. Therefore, it becomes all the more critical to strengthen the capacities of women and other marginalised sections of the population to effectively plan, make decisions, reach out to and  hold duty bearers and service providers accountable, where required, to ensure services for all.

The significance of these skills goes beyond the realm of WASH. They empower women to access more opportunities, enable them to demand for themselves as well as for other marginalised populations. We know that such skills have the power to bring about transformative change.

How to help

If you would like to help support this project, or any others, you can make a donation here. Alternatively, contact us for other ways to support the women and marginalised populations in Ganjam and beyond.

Global Handwashing Day Interview with NNN Vice-Chair, Arielle Dolegui

October 16th 2020 at 14:02

This interview was originally posted on the Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network website.

Combining hand hygiene and broader water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions with NTD programs is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve public health. WASH, including hand and face washing, prevents NTDs like trachoma, soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH), schistosomiasis and Guinea worm disease, and is needed for safe and dignified treatment and care. Hand hygiene is also effective at preventing other infectious illnesses, such as COVID-19. To commemorate Global Handwashing Day 2020, the NTD NGO Network (NNN) has committed to ensuring hand hygiene for all. It strives to support cross-sectoral political leadership, create an enabling environment, and promote sustainable and inclusive programming at scale.

Cross-sectoral partnerships are nothing new for NNN’s Vice-Chair, Arielle Dolegui. As a Technical Advisor for Health Systems Strengthening and Cross-Sector Coordination at World Vision, supporting the USAID-funded Act to End NTDs | West program, Arielle brings to the NNN a wealth of experience at the intersection of WASH, NTDs and education.

For Global Handwashing Day today, NNN WASH Working Group Chair and Director of Policy and Communications at the SCI Foundation, Yael Velleman, interviewed Arielle for her insights on the challenges and opportunities for coordinated programming, as well as the role of the NNN in driving this work forward and at scale as to realize hand hygiene for all.

As a Technical Advisor to World Vision, you’ve worked at the intersection of WASH, NTDs and education. Please tell us about your experience, and the impact you’ve seen on-the-ground from such coordinated programming.

In my role at World Vision, supporting the USAID-funded Act to End NTDs | West program, we have supported the institutionalization of cross-sector coordination of NTD programs. For example, we have supported the Ghana Health Service/National NTDP with the revamping and relaunch of their multi-sector coordination mechanism–the Intra-Country Coordinating Committee (ICCC)–to facilitate integration of NTDs into the national health systems’ priorities and policies and engage key sectors such as WASH and education for joint planning and implementation to sustain the elimination and control objectives of NTDs in Ghana. This has been a tremendous achievement on-the-ground as streamlined cross-sector collaboration remains the cornerstone strategy for effective NTD programming and a testament to country ownership and political will to move the NTD sustainability agenda forward. In Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Niger, we have also supported the Ministries of Health leadership in restructuring their multi-sectoral interventions, leveraging existing robust partnerships with the education sector while building and strengthening the nascent collaboration with the WASH sector to support both service delivery integration as well as behaviour change strategies and interventions.

The WASH UP! Initiative you lead teaches children proper hygiene practices to prevent NTDs via muppet ambassadors, Raya and Elmo. What additional innovations are needed to promote and sustain behaviour changes? How can the NNN promote such best practices?

WASH UP! is a school-based program that World Vision implements in over 11 countries in collaboration with Sesame Workshop and Ministries of Education. This program was expanded to include NTDs, specifically schistosomiasis and STH, as a pilot in Ghana and Niger. The play-based curriculum aims to promote positive WASH attitudes and behaviours among children and their school communities, including those with disabilities, with a focus on vulnerable populations. Targeted behaviours in the WASH UP! curriculum include safe water and food practices, increased latrine use, improved waste management, consistent handwashing, good personal hygiene, and kindness to all, including those who are sick and/or disabled.

World Vision has a long history of providing clean water and access to sanitation for millions of children and their families, a critical element in the prevention of NTDs. World Vision’s WASH programs focus on five key aspects: capacity building, sustainable water supplies, hygiene behaviour change, sanitation, and strengthened networks and management capacity among various stakeholders, including both government and communities. Recent projects include constructing and rehabilitating community latrines, digging wells, mobilizing communities to be declared Open Defecation Free, and promoting handwashing. In Zambia, World Vision supported the School Health and Nutrition Program, operated by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, to leverage infrastructure and financial resources for NTD-focused health education curriculum. Other projects in Malawi and Uganda have also contributed to reduced prevalence of blinding trachoma through increased uptake of hygiene and sanitation practices and strengthened capacity in planning, coordination, and monitoring of trachoma control programs.

As for the NNN, via the WASH Working Group we are currently surveying the community of practice to identify WASH and NTD research priorities, from WASH-related determinants of NTDs to implementation research for improved coordinated programming to evaluating impacts of such joint efforts. Plans to develop a technical resource on behaviour change are also underway. These are only some of the examples of how the NNN is promoting best practices for NTD elimination and control.

Your career has focused on developing cross-sectoral partnerships, which will be critical toward achieving the goals laid out in the WHO 2030 NTD Road Map. What challenges persist for WASH and NTD coordination, and what role do you see for the NNN in helping the NTD community overcome these barriers?

While WASH is critical to NTDs, current major WASH providers are not seen as NTD players as they are not participating in NTD control or elimination activities in most countries. There is also a lack of interest in partnership due to limited funding and capacity. Across countries, barriers in effective NTD-WASH coordination and collaboration include: 1) siloed program design and insufficient joint implementation; 2) limited advocacy and communication strategies on NTDs and missed opportunities to raise awareness of NTDs and their impact on public health and economic growth among WASH partners; 3) coordination mechanisms largely driven by donor funding and priorities; and 4) limited coordination and planning with relevant partners from the WASH, education, and health promotion sectors to leverage on their existing platforms to support NTD program activities.

Fortunately, The BEST framework–Behaviour, Environment, Social inclusion and Treatment and care–launched by the NNN in 2016, provides a guide for the NTD community in terms of advocacy messaging, coordinated action and funding. In addition, the NNN and WHO toolkit released last January in English and French, provides a number of tools for WASH and NTD practitioners to work better together. As it is Global Handwashing Day, I’ll emphasize two such tools: a resource on NTD-related behaviours and a guide to understand behaviours for developing behaviour change interventions. Addressing behaviour change is core to our efforts to beat NTDs, both in terms of prevention through hand and face washing, as well as the promotion of care-seeking behaviours.

COVID-19 has been immensely disruptive to many public health programs, including delaying mass drug administration activities. At the same time, however, it has also created unprecedented momentum for WASH. How is the NNN responding to this urgent need, while also strengthening coordination with the WASH sector to ‘build back better’ toward 2030?

Last month, the NNN convened its annual conference, the theme of which was building resilient NTD programs in a changing world. COVID-19 was but one focal point at the conference, during which attendees noted the resulting challenges, but also this opportunity to ‘build back better’ against future existential threats. WASH was a thread throughout the conference, including exceptional workshop sessions on behaviour change programming and evidence-based, cross-sectoral programming. The NNN, through the annual conference and monthly WASH Working Group meetings, provides a unique knowledge-sharing and action-based platform to strengthen coordination between WASH and NTD stakeholders.

Individual NNN members have also led the way on WASH and NTD coordination in response to COVID-19. The NALA Foundation, for example, with the support of The END Fund, is scaling up its WASH efforts in NTD-endemic areas to address both NTDs and COVID-19. This has included the construction and placement of 100 handwashing stations in public areas, including healthcare facilities. Additionally, several members recently pitched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners at the NTDs Idea Forum–launched at our recent NNN conference–on the opportunity to integrate WASH messaging and programming with COVID-19 and NTDs efforts.

World Vision has also leveraged its NTD partnerships to provide technical assistance to Ministries of Health, such as the Ghana Health Service/Ministry of Health (MOH/GHS) and the Senegal Ministry of Health and Social Action (MSAS), on their COVID-19 responses to enhance their cross-sector collaboration with WASH Ministries. In Ghana, the MOH/GHS is working with the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and the Ministry of Education on policies, strategies, and programs for the provision of safe water sources, rehabilitation of environmental sanitation facilities, and dissemination of hygiene promotion messages. For instance, the Community Water and Sanitation Agency provided free water access to all Ghanaians in rural areas for 3 months to help stem the spread of COVID-19. In Senegal, the national response coordination platform for COVID-19 is led by the Centre des Operations d’Urgence Sanitaire mandated by MSAS. Implementing partners, including World Vision, constructed and rehabilitated WASH infrastructure and sensitized community actors at healthcare facilities, Daaras, mortuaries, and households on hygiene practices to reduce COVID-19 exposure and transmission.

To mark Global Handwashing Day this year, the NNN has issued a statement reaffirming and even expanding upon its commitment to WASH. What message do you want to send to the NTD community regarding hand hygiene for all?

The NNN is committed to hand hygiene for all and WASH more broadly as to sustainably eliminate and control NTDs. Our commitment to this issue covers political leadership for cross-cutting WASH and NTD policies, budgets and coordination mechanisms; an enabling environment that fosters collaboration between our sectors and a lively exchange of experiences and best practices; and, finally, sustainable, inclusive programming at scale through our work to develop technical resources and a research agenda for behaviour change interventions. The NTD community, including and beyond the NNN, has and will continue to be an effective partner to the WASH sector; however, as we look to the next decade and the Sustainable Development Agenda, it is evident that we must identify new and better ways to work more effectively together as to fast-track progress. I call on NNN members and the wider NTD community, including NTD-endemic countries, development partners, donors and the WHO, to prioritize critical WASH investments and interventions in NTD-endemic areas, reinforce hygiene behaviours for NTDs and promote joint leadership at the local and ministerial levels toward these ends. This collaboration is needed to achieve hand hygiene for all and a generation free from NTDs by 2030.

Global Handwashing Day 2020 | Handwashing in the time of Covid-19 and beyond: the demand is there, the means are not

October 15th 2020 at 09:21
By: editor
Global Handwashing Day 2020 | Handwashing in the time of Covid-19 and beyond: the demand is there, the means are not editor 15 October 2020 - 10:21

Handwashing in 2020: working with utilities to protect the most vulnerable

October 15th 2020 at 08:25

This year, on Global Handwashing Day, the need for everyone to be able to wash their hands with soap has never been clearer.

The devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have shown the importance of universal hand hygiene as the simplest and most effective way to prevent the spread of a virus. For low-income communities around the world, the simple act of washing your hands with soap could save countless lives from Covid-19.

Handwashing has saved millions of people from diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, and dysentery and yet, over 40% of the world’s population lacks access to basic handwashing facilities – including 900 million school-aged children.

WSUP has been working this year to reach those urban communities most at risk from Covid-19, where high population density and lack of access to handwashing facilities mean the virus has the potential to spread quickly.

Read more: responding to the Covid-19 crisis in Madagascar

We are using our long-standing relationships with water service providers to help them reach communities with messaging about handwashing and hygiene, soap and hand sanitiser and to adapt communications channels to meet the long-term challenges of the pandemic.

By working this way, we have already reached over 500,000 people in low-income urban areas across Ghana and Kenya since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Handover of Unilever donations to APDK
WSUP has reached over 500,000 people in low-income urban areas across Ghana and Kenya since the outbreak of Covid-19 with handwashing education and materials

Reaching vulnerable people through community radio

Where local lockdowns have been in effect in Ghana, WSUP has worked alongside the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) to reach low-income communities remotely through community radio stations, a key communications channel in Ghana.

Representatives from CWSA have taken part in radio and online interviews ahead of Global Handwashing Day to discuss handwashing and its importance in helping Ghanaians prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Radio programme on Handwashing during COVID
We reached out to low-income communities in Ghana with TV and radio shows promoting good hygiene

This will ensure crucial messaging around handwashing and good hygiene can reach communities where Covid-19 restrictions mean face-to-face communication is not currently possible.

WSUP has also been working with CWSA and local authorities in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale to identify locations for new handwashing stations. This will enable low-income residents to practice the positive hygiene behaviours promoted on Global Handwashing Day.

Handwashing basin set up by CWSA
Together with CWSA, we identified locations for new handwashing stations in vulnerable communities

Protecting vulnerable groups from stigmatisation

A top priority is ensuring that all segments of the population have the ability to access information and understand the specific risks around Covid-19. In Kenya, community groups have reported that inaccurate understanding of how the disease is transmitted has led to people being disabilities being unfairly stigmatised, because of the false beliefs that these groups of people are more likely to be infected than other groups.

“The other day I was leaving the house and someone – an adult – called me Corona,” says Belinda Adhiambo, a member of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK). “I realised that there was an education gap around persons with disability and Covid-19.”

WSUP has worked with APDK and other community-based organisations to run train the trainer sessions on handwashing and good hygiene, helping increase understanding of how best to protect against Covid-19. “It is up to me now to pass on the message and make sure no-one gets left behind.”

Belinda Adhiambo representative from APDK
We are working with organisations like APDK to ensure that all segments of the population can access information and understand the specific risks around Covid-19

Strengthening online platforms to help utilities adapt to Covid-19 restrictions

As well as focusing on handwashing, WSUP has been seeking ways to minimise risk of transmission through improved hygiene more generally. In Kenya, WSUP has been working with water service providers to strengthen and extend the online services they offer to customers in low-income areas.

This has reduced the risk of Covid-19 transmission as customers do not need to visit utility offices to pay bills and utility staff do not need to visit households to conduct meter readings.

Read more: the battle to provide clean water in Kenya during the Covid-19 crisis

These improved online services will also enable new customers to sign up to services online and existing customers to quickly report leaks or burst pipes in the network. Once in place, these remote service systems will provide long-term support to utilities and their customers, ensuring essential water services can continue during the pandemic.

KIWASCO team look at ipad
With improved online platforms customers do not have to risk Covid-19 transmission to access to water services

WSUP’s handwashing and hygiene work in Ghana and Kenya has been supported by the Hygiene Behaviour Change Coalition, led by Unilever and the UK government.

Learn more about WSUP's Covid-19 response

Private actors, privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation

October 15th 2020 at 08:08

On 16 October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, is organizing the virtual side-event ‘Private actors, privatization and the human rights to … Read more

The post Private actors, privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation appeared first on UN-Water.

Private actors, privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation

October 15th 2020 at 08:08

On 16 October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, is organizing the virtual side-event ‘Private actors, privatization and the human rights to … Read more

The post Private actors, privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation appeared first on UN-Water.

Maximizing Handwashing Behavior Change Through Multiple Community Engagement Tactics

October 14th 2020 at 22:13

By: Sona Sharma and Armelle Sacher, Action Against Hunger

To promote hygienic behaviors, we must communicate and engage with communities across a variety of communication channels. In Uganda’s Kyangwali refugee settlement, Action Against Hunger’s social and behavior change efforts went beyond the simple dissemination of messages through multiple channels to also include specific tactics for enhanced engagement with communities. The efforts bore fruit, bringing about changes in handwashing behaviors.

Photo Credit: Sona Sharma, Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger, as a member of a project consortium supported by the European Union, aims to address immediate basic needs and increase resilience through an approach that puts people at its heart. Our efforts to improve access to clean water, safe sanitation, and good hygiene includes a variety of activites, including a ‘Cash for Latrine’ intervention and behavior change interventions to promote critical behaviors around handwashing, use of latrines, and safe disposal of child feces.

When the project began, just 43% of households in Kyangwali had handwashing facilities and only 32% of the household could list three critical moments for handwashing. Action Against Hunger conducted formative research to identify the main factors influencing hygiene behaviors in addition to the community’s preferred communication methods.

Based on our findings, we implemented a social and behavior change (SBC) strategy that included strategic engagement with communities through multiple platforms and channels, such as group sessions and home visits, community-based video shows and dialogues, drama shows, radio spots and talk shows, and rigorous follow up through hygiene promoters.

“The drama shows were very well done, and we learned that it is not good to use a latrine without a hand washing facility because the family members fell sick when they used the latrine and did not wash their hands after doing it.” – Caregiver for child under two years old

One unique aspect of this intervention was that every activity was planned in great detail to ensure it is connected with other activities for better recall, that there is two-way communication with communities and they are followed up to track behavior change. For example, a community-based participatory process was adopted, where community members, hygiene promoters, and local drama groups collaborated with professional actors and filmmakers to create and produce two video shows about handwashing and good hygiene. This tactic benefitted the video shows, since the audience related to known settings and were excited to see people they knew in the film. It also benefitted the drama shows as people recognized the actors from the film, thereby resulting in better engagement of the audiences.

“Videos taught us to use water and soap to wash hands when we are going to eat and that if we eat food without washing hands we shall get diseases as we saw on the video show” – Community Leader

The videos were screened in public venues and used to spark interactive discussion around hygiene. Every activity with the community members, whether a video show, a sensitization session or a drama show included interactions with people and ended with a request for commitments to adopt the promoted behaviors. Hygiene promoters then followed up on these commitments during their home visits. People from the community also participated in radio talk shows, by serving on panels or calling in to ask questions and clarify doubts.

Communities were not just passive recipients of messages, but active participants in every SBC activity. The results, within a short intervention time, reveal the potential of such a participatory approach.

In March 2020, a qualitative assessment of the effectiveness of the SBC component reported that project beneficiaries had very good knowledge of the five hygiene behaviors promoted through the intervention. The most prominent motivating factors for adoption of handwashing were the facts that handwashing prevents diseases such as cholera and Ebola and that families, especially those with young children, would be healthier with regular handwashing.

“Hand washing is easy because of the installation of the tippy tap and safe disposal of feces because I have a latrine.” – Mother of child under 5 years old

Photo Credit: Sona Sharma, Action Against Hunger

The video and radio shows had the ability to reach men, who are often left out from hygiene promotion activities. Additionally, many households had equipped themselves with simple home handwashing stations (tippy taps) and were regularly using them. Mothers, fathers, and other caregivers reported that handwashing was easy to practice, but that using soap was still a challenge as many people couldn’t afford it and the practice of handwashing before cooking was still not widely used. Finally, Action Against Hunger produced and shared guidance on radio programming, which continues to be used by partners to engage communities from a distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s the hands that do everything in the home, and also it’s the hands that bring everything to the mouth, so hand washing is very important” – Mother of child under two years old

Several recommendations were made to improve the interventions, such as using music during the drama show to make it more attractive for a Congolese audience in the refugee camp; providing nylon rope for tippy taps, as ordinary rope often broke; equipping community leaders with radios to increase audience coverage; giving promotors tablets and speakers to show the video during door-to-door activities; and advising community members on how to prevent termite damage to tippy taps.

Action Against Hunger made a conscious effort to plan and synchronize our SBC activities to maximize overall impact. Activities were rolled out strategically, focusing on one topic at a time with simultaneous capacity-strengthening among hygiene promoters. With access to quality technical SBC support, trainings, and a detailed facilitation manual, the implementation team had every support they needed too.

In these difficult times, we know that promoting handwashing with soap is a dire necessity. We hope that these valuable lessons from our SBC intervention will lead to large-scale changes in handwashing behaviors.

Top Resources for Global Handwashing Day

October 14th 2020 at 12:04
Hafeza* is cleaning her hands by sitting at the doorstep of her tent during Covid19 outbreak in the camp. Rohingya Refugee Camp Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (name change to protect identity)
Credit: Fabeha Monir/Oxfam

Global Handwashing Day takes place on the 15th of October. This year it comes with added prominence in our calendar. Coronavirus has heightened the importance of handwashing across the world. In the humanitarian and development sector, handwashing has long been central to disease prevention and programme design.  

In this blog, we’ve compiled some of our most popular resources on everything handwashing. From tools and guidelines for practitioners, blogs for those who want a snapshot of learning and resources for those who want to find out more.


Lest we forget: Why investments in hygiene, sanitation and water are key to fighting COVID-19 is written by Muyatwa Sitali, Head of Country Engagement at Sanitation and Water For All. He shares why investing in public health is key in tackling coronavirus in the long term.

Two blogs by Dr Foyeke Tolani who has 20 years’ experience in public health, humanitarian and development work:
12 tips to sustain hygiene practices now and post coronavirus in emergencies
How to prevent coronavirus through handwashing and working with communities

Recently re-released considering the coronavirus context, Ruth Mayne and Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez share what really influences our behaviour when it comes to handwashing. Check out the beautiful illustration.

Vanita Suneja of WaterAid recently wrote a brief history of handwashing on From Poverty to Power’s blog space.

Tools, Guidelines & Resources

Why is handwashing important? This technical briefing note covers the basics on the relevance of handwashing in disease prevention as well as practicalities around handwashing promotion.

Oxfam’s technical briefing note on a range of different handwashing stations particularly for communal handwashing, including in refugee/IDP settings.

Oxfam has its own handwashing stand. Foyeke Tolani and Mary A Omondi have written the guidelines on how to set up, use and maintain communal handwashing stations.

Mum’s Magic Hands by Oxfam, Unilever’s Lifebuoy soap and Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Together they have produced Programme Resources which include materials to run meetings with groups (storyboards and images of handwashing with soap) and visuals for making posters.

During the current pandemic, things move fast. This guide from Mum’s Magic Hands is for rapid implementation of handwashing promotion in emergencies.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has a wealth of health promotion materials including stickers, posters and social media graphics to promote handwashing.


How can radio change our behaviour? This case study looks at how the power of radio influenced hygiene and handwashing practice in Turkana in Kenya: SWIFT Story of Sustainable Change: Improving hygiene behaviour through local radio broadcasts in Turkana, Kenya.

Handwashing Compendium for Low Resource Settings: A Living Document: a living publication from the Institute of Development Studies on accessible low-cost handwashing facilities.


The Global Handwashing Partnership is running the Handwashing Thursday Series which will take place between October 22nd and December 17th 2020. The series will present best practices and new concepts to improve the uptake of handwashing.


Beth Donkin

Beth is the Views and Voices Digital Content Editor at Oxfam GB.

The impact of Watershed on decentralised decision making with inclusion of women: Findings from India

October 14th 2020 at 10:29

Water and sanitation interventions should put special focus on strengthening systems of community participation as well as enabling the participation of all citizens.

The Watershed programme has provided the much-required entry point for the CSOs at large, and for women, specifically, into the basics of the planning for and management of water and sanitation. It has facilitated women's participation in community proceedings as well as created several opportunities for them to voice their needs and concerns in front of elected representatives and officials of line departments. Being able to engage has made women interested and active and has enabled them to articulate and put forth their demands. Such interventions are essential to ensure vibrant, representative, and accountable local governments.

Global Handwashing Day 2020

October 14th 2020 at 08:56

Global Handwashing Day is October 15. And as every year, the day serves as a platform to raise global awareness on the importance of hand-washing with soap.

Within the work of the SMART Centres, handwashing is an important theme as it contributes greatly to improved health and reduced spread of diseases. There are ongoing projects in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Niger around Handwashing and COVID-19 and we have recently published several resources with ideas to scale-up low-cost handwashing solutions.

Handwashing at a market in Mzuzu, Malawi, using one of the handwashing stations make by a welders trained through the SMART Centre.