COVID-19: Sanitation and hygiene for today and tomorrow

Global Handwashing Day Cover image

What are we doing?

We are keeping our focus on sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health, for those left behind and least able to respond.

LATEST NEWS: We have compiled what we view as the most useful information and practical guidance at this point for our country implementing partners. Alongside a wider set of resources and some of the good practices gathered from our country partners, COVID-19 information and guidance for programmes, it is intended to provide the latest information on COVID-19 and offer practical guidance.
We are contacting our members so that they can share their experiences, opinions and stories.
We are looking after our staff and following advice, working from home and maintaining social distancing. And, importantly, we are talking to the international development community, our partners and donors about why a focus on sanitation and hygiene should not take a pandemic.

Community Health Partners, an implementing partner of the Kenya Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (K-SHIP), recently visited these remote communities as part of their efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19. © K-SHIP

Our Countries' Stories

Like many of us, our in-country partners are observing government and employer directives to "stay at home". This means that regular community-based activities are likely disrupted until the situation changes. Yet much is still being achieved.


Join us to end the sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health crisis

Watch our message from our Executive Chair, Ms Hind Khatib-Othman

Safe sanitation and hygiene are key to preventing and managing the outbreak of many deadly infectious diseases including cholera, diarrhoea, Ebola and now, Coronavirus. With no vaccine or cure, regular handwashing with soap is one of the most important ways to prevent or reduce the spread of  COVID-19.
Sanitation and hygiene related loss of productivity, as with the COVID-19 pandemic, can cost countries billions of dollars. It can also cost a household its livelihood and means of survival. There is a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal target for sanitation and hygiene, SDG6.2, but progress is lagging and lacks urgency.


  • More than 4 billion people globally do not have access to safely managed sanitation services (the SDG indicator) and 3 billion lack access to basic handwashing facilities at home
  • Nearly 9% of the world’s population still practice open defecation
  • 1 in 3 schools and 1 in 5 health care facilities do not have basic sanitation and hygiene services.
Yet, at the current trajectory, the SDG 6.2 indicator of safely managed sanitation will not be realized until the 22nd century. And when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the situation of these people will likely be no better.
The challenge is immense, and we applaud all governments for acting - as custodians of public health, as donors and members of the international community - and for responding to the COVID-19 emergency. We also recognize the importance of investing in vaccine development. But we also ask that collectively we do more.
That is why we are calling for a new Fund dedicated to sanitation and hygiene, dedicated to preventing future pandemics by investing in SDG6.2, in sanitation and hygiene systems and services, dedicated to those left behind, and least able to respond.

We, like others, want to help keep you informed

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans; COVID-19 is the newest.
  • COVID-19 is characterized by fever, tiredness, and dry cough.
  • Symptoms are usually mild. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. About 80% recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
  • Some people are at more risk than others including older people, and those with underlying medical problems.
  • The virus passes from person to person, spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales passing small droplets. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol rub.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. Follow guidance provided by your local health authority.


WSSCC has compiled what we view as the most useful information and practical guidance at this point, alongside a wider set of resources and some of the good practices gathered from our country partners.

WSSCC led and supported:

1. WSSCC and COVID-19: information and guidance for partners, also in French.

2. Programming guidance on Menstrual Health and Hygiene in COVID-19 response

Partner resources: 

3. New! Handwashing Compendium for Low Resource Settings: A Living Document (French)

4 Additional partner COVID-19 resources (sorted by theme)

5. July. Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (WHO)

6. March. COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response WASH and Infection Prevention and Control Measures in Schools. (UNICEF)

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