Reducing diarrhoeal diseases and thereby improving health is a main objective for many water and sanitation programmes.

The key to improved health is the H in WASH: Hygiene.

Hygiene is often referred to as the behaviours and measures which are used to break the chain of infection transmission at home and in the community. Below is an overview of common hygiene measures contributing to a reduced burden of infectious diseases:

  • Hand hygiene and personal hygiene;
  • Food hygiene (cooking, storing, preventing cross contamination);
  • Ensuring safe water at “point of use”;
  • Respiratory hygiene;
  • Safe disposal of faeces (both human and animal);
  • General hygiene (laundry, surfaces, toilets, baths, sinks); and
  • Disposal of solid waste, control of wastewater and rainwater.

The key to hygiene interventions is understanding how infectious diseases are transmitted, and prioritizing practices which carry the greatest risk accordingly. In communities where facilities for safe disposal of faeces are inadequate, the major part of the diarrhoeal disease burden originates from infected faeces. Infectious agents are transmitted from faeces to hands to mouth or by consumption of food or water which has become contaminated with faecal organisms.  The routes of transmission is often visualized in the 4 F's: harmful substances in faeces can be spread through fields, fingers, flies, via food and fluids. Thus, good hygiene behaviour is incremental in breaking the transmission routes and making an important contribution to increased well-being.

On the following pages, we refer to some key areas of hygiene promotion:

  • Community hygiene promotion
  • Targeted home hygiene
  • Hand washing with soap
  • Menstrual hygiene


Last updated: Thu, 04/17/2014 - 15:21