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Promoting Life-Saving Hygiene Practices on Global Handwashing Day

Today, on Global Handwashing Day, we emphasize the need to educate others on the value of washing hands with soap and water. According to the United Nations, people in some parts of the world still have little or no awareness of good hygiene practices.

Handwashing plays a significant role in Water Mission’s work of helping reduce the number of waterborne and water-related medical cases. Working in conjunction with our safe water and sanitation solutions are our hygiene promotion initiatives.

Partners like Pentair help communities reduce the risk of sickness by making WASH education possible.
What is Global Handwashing Day?

Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership as an initiative to encourage people to wash their hands with soap. This year’s theme, “Clean Hands for All,” highlights inclusivity when addressing people’s sanitation and hygiene needs. In places with inadequate handwashing facilities and promotion programs, individuals have a higher risk of falling ill. This negatively impacts their health, education, and economic standing, putting them at a greater disadvantage.

Clean hands help build healthier, more resilient communities.
Why is handwashing important?

Harmful germs can thrive, multiply, and spread in situations where handwashing is not commonplace. In fact, gastrointestinal issues that stem from bacteria and viruses are the leading cause of illness and death globally, and it disproportionately affects young children.

However, studies have shown that the simple practice of handwashing can prevent one in three gastrointestinal sicknesses as well as one in five respiratory infections, such as the cold and flu viruses. Proper handwashing techniques can reduce hygiene-related deaths by 35 percent and save the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year.

Hygiene education goes a long way when it comes to changing people’s habits. The availability of soap is almost universal, and most individuals have access to multipurpose soap bars, or even detergent to make soapy water. However, many households that do have soap or detergent use it for laundry, dishwashing, or bathing, and not handwashing. Simple, straightforward informational sessions on the benefits of handwashing can change this, positively impacting individuals, families, and communities.

A woman in Bo Bella Vista, Honduras, implements handwashing best practices.
What does Water Mission do?

We use a variety of approaches for safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) promotion, including training local volunteers to become “WASH Promoters.” We train them to be ambassadors for healthy WASH behaviors in their neighborhoods, schools, and hospitals.

We equip these volunteers and their community leaders with teaching techniques so that they can successfully educate others on healthy handwashing behaviors.

We instruct WASH Promoters on the use of illustrated flashcards easily understood across cultures, which they use to advise others on proper latrine usage, contaminated water, and how and when to wash hands with soap.

A woman outside Jinja, Uganda, washes her hands outside of a Healthy Latrine.
What can you do?

You can advocate for communities in need and promote healthy handwashing practices by sharing this blogpost. You can also share our posts about this global issue on Facebook and Instagram. Change begins with education. Help others learn why these issues persist and how organizations like Water Mission are working to promote awareness and develop solutions.

Support our work in promoting water, sanitation, and hygiene awareness around the world.

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