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WaterAid and hygiene

Hygiene is crucial in preventing disease. Together with safe water and sanitation it can transform people’s health, education and livelihoods. Without good hygiene practices, such as handwashing with soap, the benefits of safe and sustainable water and sanitation services will always be undermined.

Despite ongoing efforts and recent progress, diarrhoeal diseases are the second leading infectious cause of child deaths among children under five. Diarrhoeal diseases kill around 315,000 children under-five each year. Severe diarrhoea is one of the most common reasons children are admitted to hospital in low-income and middle-income countries. ​

Something as simple as handwashing with soap can cut incidences of diarrhoea almost in half. However, hygiene remains one of the least prioritised areas of development. While it is, in theory, an integrated part of the global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, in reality this is often not the case. Research shows that improving hygiene practices is often an afterthought, and standalone hygiene intervention programmes are rare, even where water and sanitation services have been provided.

At WaterAid, hygiene is integrated into everything we do, and forms part of a three-pronged approach alongside water and sanitation.