The spread of illnesses like COVID-19 reminds us how vital good hygiene is - but what if you didn't have access to clean water to help protect yourself?

Communities are reliant on good hygiene and infection prevention and control to stop the spread. With 3.79 million people lacking clean water, and inadequate WASH infrastcture at healthcare facilities, lives are being put at risk every day because people don't have access to the very basics.

Poor hygiene means children get sick and miss school, adults can't work to support their families and patients are at risk in health centres. Whole communities miss out on opportunities to improve their lives.

In fact, many get no chance at life at all. Globally, in every two-minutes, a child under five dies from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

So when a community gets clean water and decent toilets for the first time, they also have the power to change their hygiene habits. They can keep themselves and their environment clean, stay healthy, stop diseases from spreading, and live dignified lives.

What do we mean when we talk about hygiene?

Hygiene can be hard to define as it covers so many behaviours, from personal hygiene like handwashing, and menstrual hygiene, to the clean use of toilets and the safe use of water. Some groups of people are also more affected by poor hygiene – especially people with disabilities, young girls, women and babies.

Handwashing, menstrual health, public facilities

Whether it's after going to the toilet, before eating or when you're preparing a meal, washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of disease.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we acted fast – setting up hands-free handwashing stations across community chokepoints, and have gone as far as innovating a mobile handwashing station to enable hand hygiene at scale.

Apart from hand hygiene, we have worked in the sects of menstrual health and providing essential facilities to enable good hygiene at crucial junctures such as healthcare centres and schools – working hand-in-hand with the Government.

See the countermeasures we took to curb the spread of the pandemic across Bangladesh

Menstrual Health

Checkout our study on menstrual health and hygiene challenges during COVID-19

WASH in Healthcare

See how hygiene can improve healthcare facilities and health outcomes from our report

Why do we talk to people about hygiene?

Changing or improving habits of washing and practising hygiene might not be as easy as it sounds. So when we bring clean water to a community, we also show people how important keeping clean is.

Image: WaterAid/ Drik/ Farzana Hossen

Hygiene remains the most lagging area of WASH, and there is a real risk that the accomplishments of increased access to improved water sources and latrines will not necessarily lead to proportionate health and nutritional gains given the concerning state of hygiene practice. 

Want to collaborate with us? Shoot an email our way with a proposal on ways we can work together.