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Hygiene (or health) education


It is nowadays regarded as axiomatic that public health benefits are unlikely to be gained from basic water supply and sanitation service schemes in low-income communities unless their installation is accompanied by programmes of hygiene or health education. This is one of the critical items of ‘software’ in BWSS now given emphasis alongside appropriate ‘hardware’. Experience has shown that

(a) a water supply may be an importantfelt need among communities, but for survival, convenience, and burden-reduction reasons, not for protection of family health; (b) the germ theory of disease and the threat posed by pathogens are not well-understood among uneducated populations; (c) low-income communities frequently ignore the need for safe waste disposal as a health protection measure; (d) as a result of insanitary storage practices, lack of hand-washing, and poor excreta disposal, water which was safe at the point of collection frequently becomes contaminated. Hygiene education is needed to correct this situation. Agents and organisations suitable for the delivery of hygiene education include health department workers, sanitation officers, NGOs, and teachers. There is extensive experience with good hygiene education programmes (including school health education) which can be called upon.


Further information: Stir Gently! The Way to Mix Hygiene Education with Water Supply and Sanitation, IRC, 1994.

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