Diarrhoea and respiratory infections kill up to four million children every year. Human excreta are the source of most diarrheal pathogens and some respiratory infections. Hands play a key role in the spread of these infections. Research has shown that washing hands with soap at critical moments – after contact with human excreta and before handling food – could reduce diarrhoea incidence by 42- 47percent. Handwashing with soap has now also been shown to have the potential to reduce respiratory infections by 23 per cent.

Changing existing handwashing habits is difficult and requires a vast and concerted effort. Past hygiene promotion efforts in water and sanitation programs have had limited scope and impact. The approach to handwashing promotion developed by the Public-Private Partnership to Promote Handwashing (PPPHW) involves careful consumer research and the use of social marketing to bring about large-scale behaviour change. At the country level, the PPPHW Initiatives bring together the optimal public and private sector resources and expertise to design and manage state-of-the-art handwashing campaigns. While each national PPPHW initiative is in some ways unique, core components shared by all national handwashing initiatives include:

Researching consumer needs to identify handwashing habits, drivers, barriers, and optimal communication channels.

Designing and testing appropriate and appealing messages, based on consumer research findings.

Implementing a promotion program making use of all suitable communication channels.

Measuring and evaluating results.

Further, the approach to handwashing developed under the BNWP-funded PPPHW aims to create sustainable and long-term behaviour change by integrating handwashing initiatives into existing services, especially in schools and health outreach programs.

The project sought to reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases in poor communities through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) promoting handwashing with soap.
Lessons learned were used to promote the approach at a global level.

The project implementation included the following work components:

Provision of technical support, including international marketing expertise, to projects in Ghana, Nepal, Peru, and Senegal; and

A global advocacy and the development of tools for the effective replication of the handwashing partnership approach.