Handwashing in Emergencies – Emergency WASH Biweekly Update

Dear Colleagues:

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.


Innovative ‘Surprise Soap’ gets children washing hands in emergencies, with lifesaving implications. LSHTM, October 2018.
Researchers gave families in a displaced persons camp in Iraq a soap with a visible toy embedded in the center. The more children used the soap, the quicker they reached the toy. Children in the camp were involved in choosing the toys that were used, before they were manufactured locally using 3D printers. The findings show that play may be the key to increasing handwashing and saving lives in emergencies. It is the first time a motive-based handwashing approach has been tested with children in an emergency.

Child’s play: Harnessing play and curiosity motives to improve child handwashing in a humanitarian setting. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, September 2018.
We show that distributing soaps with toys embedded inside, in a rapidly deployable intervention, can improve child handwashing behaviour in a humanitarian emergency context. Further studies are needed to determine the longer-term behavioural and health impact of such an intervention when delivered at a greater scale in a humanitarian context.

What doesn’t kill you: let’s talk about failure. UNHCR Innovation Service, September 2018.
This blog post by Cecilie Hestbæk, HIF Innovation Management Adviser, Elrha, discusses lessons learned from the Handwashing Innovation Challenge.

Promoting Good Hygiene in Burj El Burajneh Refugee Camp. Anera, September 2018.
In the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon lies Burj El Barajneh; the most densely populated Palestinian refugee camp in the city and home to more than 17,000 registered refugees; all living within a mere 1 square kilometer area. In response to these challenges, Anera partnered with UNICEF to do outreach in Burj El Barajneh as part of the Community Based Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Project.


Water insecurity and gendered risk for depression in rural Uganda: a hotspot analysis. BMC Public Health, September 2018.
Residing in a water insecurity hotspot is associated with greater risk for probable depression among women, but not among men, pointing to the need for focused depression screening among women residing in water insecure households.

Household Water Treatment and Cholera Control. Journal of Infectious Diseases, September 2018.
We conducted a systematic review of published and gray literature to determine the outcomes and impacts of HWT in preventing cholera specifically. Overall, a moderate quality of evidence suggests that HWT interventions reduce the burden of disease in cholera outbreaks and the risk of disease transmission. Appropriate training for users and community health worker follow-up are necessary for use.

Impact of social capital, harassment of women and girls, and water and sanitation access on premature birth and low infant birth weight in India. PLoS One, October 2018.
Globally, preterm birth (PTB) and low infant birth weight (LBW) are leading causes of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Inadequate water and sanitation access (WASH) are risk factors for PTB and LBW in low-income countries. The objective of this study is to assess the relationships between WASH access and social conditions (including harassment and social capital) on PTB and LBW outcomes among Indian women, and to test whether social conditions modified the association between WASH and birth outcomes.


Words into action guidelines implementation guide for addressing water-related disasters and transboundary cooperation. UNISDR, October 2018.
The purpose of this guide is not to offer a detailed methodology that could be followed step by step, but rather to propose a set of principles and guidance with references to additional materials that combine disaster risk approaches with transboundary water management and climate adaptation.

Vibrio cholerae and Cholera biotypes. Global Water Pathogen Project, August 2018.
This chapter aims to provide the reader with a broad understanding of recent discoveries of V. cholerae and new recombinant V. cholerae biotypes and an outlook toward future developments.

Market Support Interventions in Humanitarian Contexts: A Tip Sheet. CaLP, June 2018.
PURPOSE: Define what market support programming in humanitarian contexts is and what it can look like in practice. Enable humanitarian practitioners to consider market support interventions from the outset by highlighting the potential benefits of market support programming alongside or independently of other program activities.

Ndrelmba, Perotiyapa and Dora: Translating Menstruation. HIF ELRHA, September 2018. The study aims to assess the feasibility of integrating reusable menstrual health products (reusable pads and menstrual cups), education and support structures, into humanitarian programming and aims to provide practical guidance to humanitarian actors in addressing menstrual health within refugee contexts.

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