Water Currents: Global Handwashing Day 2017

Water Currents is produced biweekly by USAID’s E3 Water Office. Each issue contains recent news and articles on water sector issues, partner and donor updates, latest sector research, and a special focus on one topic. Please provide your feedback and suggestions by contacting the waterteam@usaid.gov

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated each year on October 15 to increase awareness and understanding around the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. USAID recognizes washing hands with soap at critical times as a vital step in curbing the spread of diarrhea and respiratory illness, and promoting healthy growth. USAID works with vulnerable populations around the world who lack access to soap and water in the home and are often miles away from a safe and clean facility.

Join your soapy hands together to celebrate this year’s Global Handwashing Day theme, “Our Hands, Our Future.” USAID handwashing efforts work toward a future where soap and water are accessible to every home and handwashing is a regular habit. Good handwashing habits allow children and their families to live full and thriving lives, no matter where they live.

This issue of Water Currents provides information on upcoming events, recent research studies, and news items to help bring attention to this important advocacy day.

Join the #GlobalHandwashingDay conversation @USAIDWater.


Water Currents - In Focus


Interventions to Promote Handwashing and Sanitation Webinar. October 24, 2017. This Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) webinar will discuss the recent WSSCC/3ie systematic review, “Approaches to Promote Handwashing and Sanitation Behavior Change in Low and Middle Income Countries."

Publications and Blogs

Handwashing ResearchWater Currents, August 2017. This issue highlights recent handwashing studies including research in Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, as well as studies on handwashing and infectious diseases, among other topics.

The State of Handwashing in 2016: Annual ReviewGlobal Handwashing Partnership (GHP), March 2017. GHP's annual review outlines key themes and findings from 59 peer-reviewed handwashing-related research papers published in 2016 around: 1) the benefits of handwashing with soap, 2) handwashing compliance, 3) approaches to handwashing behavior, 4) determinants of handwashing with soap, and 5) handwashing hardware efficacy.

Handwashing with Soap, Where Are We? Globalwaters.org, October 2017. This blog post summarizes two recent studies that provide data on handwashing behavior change progress and measurement around the world.

Essential WASH Actions: A Training and Reference Pack to Supplement Essential Nutrition ActionsUSAID TOPS Micro Grant Program, June 2017. This guide reinforces the connection between WASH and nutrition by offering a comprehensive set of essential WASH actions and training materials on handwashing, water treatment, and other topics.

Expanding the Population Coverage of Evidence–Based Interventions with Community Health Workers to Save the Lives of Mothers and ChildrenJournal of Global Health, December 2017. Researchers used the Lives Saved Tool to estimate the number of maternal, neonatal, and child deaths that could be prevented if countries scaled up the coverage of 30 interventions. The interventions with the most potential impact included handwashing with soap, nutritional interventions during pregnancy, and oral rehydration solution for childhood diarrhea.

Community-Led Total Sanitation, Open Defecation Free Status, and Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Lofa County, LiberiaJournal of Health Communication, August 2017. Before the EVD epidemic in Liberia, community-led total sanitation (CLTS) was implemented in 155 communities, with 98 communities certified as open defecation free (ODF). An analysis determined that no cases of EVD were found in ODF communities and only one was found in the non-ODF CLTS communities.

Mikono Safi: Formative Research BriefSHARE, August 2017. The findings from this formative research in Tanzania helped researchers to understand the factors influencing and constraining children’s handwashing practices, and will provide guidance for developing a package of interventions to be tested in an upcoming main trial.

Field Testing New Handwashing Kit Prototype in TanzaniaHumanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), July 2017. Building on the success of the water-saving and hygienic Handy Wash Tap, a new prototype for a freestanding handwashing station was produced and field-tested in collaboration with Oxfam and others with funding from the HIF.


Norms, Nudges, or Addiction: Understanding Drivers for Handwashing BehaviorGHP; USAID, September 2017. This webinar focused on behavior change strategies for handwashing with soap. Nga Nguyen with USAID, Dr. Reshmaan Hussam of Harvard Business School, and Dr. Hans Mosler of the University of Zurich presented updates on recent research.

Nga Nguyen and Reshmaan Hussam on Incentivizing Handwashing Habit FormationGlobal Waters Radio, September 2017. In this podcast, USAID’s Nga Nguyen and Harvard University’s Dr. Reshmaan Hussam discuss incentivizing handwashing behavior change. The podcast is a follow up to the September 2017 webinar (above),“Norms, Nudges, or Addiction.”


Globalwaters.org  – Learn about USAID’s water, sanitation, and hygiene activities around the world and explore a range of resources related to handwashing and behavior change.

Global Handwashing Partnership  – GHP is a coalition of international stakeholders that work to promote handwashing with soap and recognize hygiene as a pillar of international development and public health. GHP is also a leading organizer of Global Handwashing Day 2017.

WASH in Healthcare Facilities: A Toolbox for Improving Quality of Care – This website by the USAID Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) includes resources as well as perspectives and approaches from MCSP experiences on integrating WASH in support of quality of care improvements that lead to improved health outcomes.

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council  – WSSCC is a global, multi-stakeholder membership and partnership organization that works to improve sanitation and hygiene at scale. Their site includes this special page with tools and resources to celebrate Global Handwashing Day 2017.


Water Currents - In the News

Meet Dr. Myriam Sidibe, the Handwashing ChampionAfrican Population and Health Research Center, September 2017. Myriam Sidibe is a Kenya-based handwashing expert. Since 2006, she has also been the pioneer and leader of Unilever’s social mission work in 55 countries. You can also view her TED talk, “The Simple Power of Handwashing.”

Jatropha Soap Improving Handwashing Practices in Mtoliwa Village, MalawiCivil Society WASH Fund, February 2017. With funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mtoliwa village’s health and water committee received training on how to grow jatropha trees and use the seeds for soap production.

North Carolina Teacher's Handwashing Experiment Goes 'Viral.' KDSK, September 2017. A health occupation teacher used a simple classroom experiment to demonstrate the importance of washing hands when handling food. The experiment got national attention after she posted the results on Facebook.

Here’s How Many People Actually Wash their Hands after Using the BathroomHuffPo, October 2017. This article provides recent facts on handwashing in the United States and other countries.

Global Handwashing Day: Yet Another Campaign to Reaffirm Our Belief in ChangeIndiaCsr, October 2017. The author argues that India’s participation in Global Handwashing Day is an important way to contribute to the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign.

SpaTap Portable Tap–1st Prize Winner of the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Supplies ChallengeSpaTap, June 2017. SpaTap wins first prize in the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Supplies Challenge. The SpaTap device turns a water bottle into a handwashing station or portable shower by controlling the water flow rate.

WaterSHED HappyTap. HappyTap is an award-winning sink designed to make washing hands a habit. HappyTap Co.—funded in part by USAID/Development Innovation
Ventures—recently announced a partnership with the TRANSFORM initiative to develop and test solutions for handwashing in Bangladesh.

If you would like to feature your organization's materials or suggest other content for upcoming issues of Water Currents, please send them to Dan Campbell, Knowledge Creation/WASH Specialist, at dcampbell@waterckm.com.