Preventing the transmission of diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses through the widespread adoption of safe hygiene practices, including handwashing and safe wastewater disposal.

Why Hygiene Matters

In 2015, diarrhea claimed the lives of roughly 530,000 children under age 5, accounting for 9 percent of all deaths in that age group. Providing clean water and sanitation are simply not enough. Promoting better hygiene is an important way to ensure that improved water supply and sanitation have positive health outcomes over the long term, for children and adults alike.

Our Approach

To improve health outcomes, USAID works to increase the correct and consistent adoption of three key hygiene behaviors: 1) handwashing with soap at critical times; 2) safe disposal and management of excreta; and 3) improving household water storage, handling, and treatment. To induce hygiene behavior change at the community and household levels, USAID works with local governments, the private sector, and communities to: foster institutional and policy support, develop targeted messages, increase demand, and strengthen the production and marketing of hygiene products and services. USAID has also adopted community-based approaches to behavior change, such as working through health and agriculture extension services, to support communities transitioning from open defecation. To raise public awareness about the vital role that good hygiene plays in improving public health outcomes, USAID also actively participates in various annual hygiene-based international celebrations, including Global Handwashing Day (October 15) and World Toilet Day (November 19).