Hygiene is a critical component to effective, sustainable WASH. If water is clean at the source and toilets exist in the community, their effectiveness only goes so far if community members do not practice effective hygiene behaviours to ensure that water stays clean until it is consumed, that all human faeces are hygienically disposed, and that personal hygiene is practiced to safeguard individual and community health.
World Vision actively engages with community members to promote good hygiene behaviours. Together with the community, we work to educate people on good hygiene and promote long lasting healthy habits. One of the key approaches we use is called Designing for Behaviour Change, to identify what either prevents or enables positive hygiene behaviours, and then designing activities to address those issues. Hygiene encompasses a variety of areas, from handwashing and keeping toilets clean at home, school and health care facilities; to menstrual hygiene management – a key issue that particularly affects the ability of girls to stay in school.
- Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.
- The simple act of washing hands at critical times can reduce the number of diarrhea cases by as much as 35%.
- A lack of menstrual hygiene support for adolescent girls has a significant impact on school attendance. For instance, in Ghana, girls miss up to 5 days of school per month attributed to inadequate sanitation facilities and the lack of sanitary products at school as well as physical discomfort due to menstruation. In fact, due to poor sanitation facilities 95% of girls in Ghana have missed school when menstruating.
- Women who give birth in unsanitary conditions are at a threefold increased risk of maternal mortality in both home and facility births.