Handwashing saves lives
How we work to promote safer hygiene
If a toilet does not have an adequate handwashing station, it’s hard to make sure your hands are clean. In some places even access to a toilet is not guaranteed.
Faeces can contain germs which cause diarrhoea or respiratory infections. Did you know that a single gram of human faeces can contain one trillion germs? For communities with little access to hygiene facilities, that’s a big risk to take.
Hygiene promotion remains neglected, but we’re trying to change that. Our work can provide easier access to clean water and safe toilets, and teaches children the life-saving practice of handwashing.
The practice of handwashing is essential to preventing the spread of disease. Soap effectively eliminates germs that would otherwise be spread to surfaces, items, food, and other people – and it keeps you safe from them too. In poorer areas, where the risk is greatest, proper handwashing with soap can reduce cases of diarrhoea by 30 per cent. Respiratory infections like the common cold are also reduced by 20 per cent. This is a huge benefit to those communities, as every reduction is also preventing the spreading of those illnesses.
It is also important to know when to wash our hands – after going to the toilet and before touching food. These are critical opportunities to prevent the catching and spreading of germs, so forming a reliable handwashing habit is essential.
We know how effective washing our hands with soap can be to combating the spread of illness and disease, but, sadly, hundreds of millions of people around the world still do not have soap and clean water to wash their hands with. Too many communities are relying on toilets that do not provide sufficient hygiene facilities, or do not have toilets at all.
We work with communities around the world to provide more reliable access to clean water and safe toilets, and to teach children about the importance of proper handwashing. We aim to prevent avoidable and needless childhood illnesses like diarrhoea, pneumonia, and cholera. Our work includes ensuring children have access to toilets, safe drinking water and hand-washing facilities in schools, and setting up school WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) clubs for kids, which include activities that teach them about safe sanitation and good hygiene. We also help communities to reduce practices that cause disease, like defecating in the open, while promoting hand washing and waste management.