Nudges following final phase of construction, including: dedicated handwashing station, paved paths, and painted foot—and handprints in School (A) and School (B). Photo taken immediately following construction and prior to soap being made available during the next school day. Photo credit: Robert Dreibelbis, Anne Kroeger, Kamal Hossain, Mohini Venkatesh, Pavani K. Ram

Robert Dreibelbis on Handwashing Behavior Change in Bangladesh

Robert Dreibelbis is a Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and an Assistant Professor in the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Anthropology and Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences. Dreibelbis shares with Global Waters Radio his experiences with a handwashing behavior change pilot project in Bangladesh that delivered promising results obtained using subconscious environmental cues called “nudging.” Without the use of additional handwashing education interventions, the nudge-based intervention implemented by Dreibelbis and his team increased handwashing among school children by 72 percent during the trial period.

Dreibelbis also discusses the project’s implications for future handwashing behavior change research, particularly in the healthcare industry. A nudge-based approach to handwashing hygiene improvement in clinics and hospitals incorporating simple changes to infrastructure, availability or placement of handwashing facilities could drive significant hygiene improvements among healthcare workers, he suggests.

Having trouble accessing this episode? You can also stream this podcast by searching "Global Waters Radio" on iTunes, Google Play, or your preferred podcast platform.

To view or download this interview transcript:

For more information on topics, programs, or organizations related to this podcast:

Global Waters Radio is a podcast series produced by the Water Team at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The series offers listeners insights from USAID officials, development partners, thought leaders and experts from across the water sector as they discuss current USAID water programming and cutting-edge research from around the world. Have a topic you would like to see covered in a future Global Waters Radio podcast? Please contact us at, and follow us on Twitter @USAIDWater.

Publication Date
Author credits
Robert Dreibelbis
Taylor Schaefer
Russell Sticklor
9 minutes 32 seconds
Population Focus
Related Countries