Published on: 18/12/2018
The explicit reference to hygiene in the text of Sustainable Development Goal target 6.2 represents increasing recognition of the importance of hygiene and its close links with sanitation. Hygiene is multi-faceted and can compromise many behaviours, including handwashing, menstrual hygiene and food hygiene. International consultations among WASH sector professionals identified handwashing with soap and water as a top priority in all settings, and also as a suitable indicator for national and global monitoring.
Carolyn Moore, Secretariat Director of the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) explains that behaviour change requires huge efforts and investments so hopefully the inclusion in the SDGs will raise its prominence. Handwashing with soap is advocated for by the GHP because hygiene is such a crucial piece of the puzzle that ensures that WASH is making the impact we want to achieve.
Behaviour change is also at the heart of the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) programme in Bhutan. Thinley Dem, behaviour change communications advisor at SNV, mentions that in Bhutan a barrier to handwashing was that there was no soap present when the user needed it. Knowledge was another barrier. So they shared knowledge at critical junctures, including demand creation workshops. Together with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), they used the SuperAmma approach which is based on behaviour centred design. Adam Biran, Environmental Health lecturer at LSHTM, explains that this is underpinned by the Evo-Eco Approach which has its foundations in formative research on behaviour responses.
All over the world, handwashing behaviour is not being practised enough to deliver the desired outcomes. More needs to be done to see how the best approaches, like the Evo-Eco approach can be adapted to different settings at different levels of intensity.
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