What do we mean when we talk about hygiene?

Essentially, it’s about the activities we perform every day that keep us clean and healthy, from washing our food before we eat to handwashing with soap, and giving girls and women the essentials they need to manage their periods with dignity.

But for millions of people around the world, making these tasks a normal part of everyday life is impossible. When water is scarce, it has to be saved for cooking and drinking – even if it’s dirty – and using it to wash clothes or clean dishes simply isn't an option.

That’s why your support doesn’t just enable people to access clean water and decent toilets. It also means we can promote good hygiene, making sure people experience the benefits for generations to come.

And how important is hygiene in keeping people safe from disease? Research shows that simply handwashing with soap could cut the risk of diarrhoea almost in half – saving hundreds of lives every single day.

Spreading the word about good hygiene

We're taking an innovative approach to improving hygiene: challenging taboos, changing behaviours and creating solutions that work for each individual community.

Taking a stand on period taboos

During my first period I was kept in my friend’s house. I was told not to see male members of my family.
Sabina, 15, Nepal
Thumbnail WaterAid/Mani Karmacharya

In Sindhuli, Nepal, girls like Sabina face a whole host of stigma and taboo when they get their first period. Many are sent away from home, to make sure they don't come into contact with their male relatives. They're also told not to look in a mirror, eat papaya or drink cow’s milk.

Here, using cameras for the very first time, Sabina and her friends document the experiences they face every month, and the impact it has on their lives.

Thank you, Dr Semmelweis

160 years ago, women were terrified of giving birth at Vienna’s General Hospital – until one man looked into the power of handwashing. Tragically, his life-saving findings proved to be ahead of their time.

Thumbnail WaterAid

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