Footsteps 97 - Hygiene and sanitation

‘Come back and wash your hands, please!’ I call to my three-year-old son, sometimes several times a day. He doesn’t like the cold water. He doesn’t like it if his sleeves get wet. He finds it difficult to dry his hands. And when looking after him, I sometimes feel like I’m washing my hands every few minutes – after helping him on the toilet, before giving him a snack, after throwing away a tissue he’s used to wipe his nose…

It takes effort to create a habit in a child, and it is even more difficult to encourage adults to change habits, especially when the new habits feel inconvenient. That is why in this issue on hygiene and sanitation we are not focusing on technical solutions, important as they are. Instead we consider what people really want from sanitation (page 3) and how community facilitators help people take the initiative to change their habits and improve their sanitation and hygiene (pages 4–5 and 10–11). Hand washing with soap is an easy, cheap way of improving our health, so we share instructions for how to make soap (pages 12–13) and information about hand washing that can easily be shared with groups as a starting point for discussion (pages 8–9).

Our readership survey showed us that you were especially interested in Footsteps issues on water and sanitation, so we hope that you will be encouraged by what you read here. We would love to hear what you think, so please get in touch. The next issue will also be on a subject that many of you highlighted in the readership survey – HIV.

Helen Gaw Editor

Please find below articles from Footsteps issue 97 in html.

To download a pdf version of Footsteps issue 97, please click here (PDF 987 KB).


  • From the MDGs to the SDGs

    The deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is fast approaching. Has the world succeeded in achieving them? And what comes next?

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  • Hand washing

    Even if our hands look clean, they can still be covered with millions of germs. Washing hands with soap is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves healthy and stop these germs from spreading from one person to another.

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  • Overcoming challenges in Community-Led Total Sanitation

    It is widely accepted that the success of a Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) process depends mostly on the skills of the facilitator. This is because in most cultures defecation is considered a private, personal activity, which should not be publicly discussed.

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  • Resources

    A selection of books, websites and training material on the subject of hygiene and sanitation.

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  • Soap making

    Making simple plain soap is relatively easy and involves basic equipment. This article describes how you can make simple hard soaps that are suitable for many uses around the home, including hand washing.

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  • The woman who wanted a toilet

    When Anita Narre left her in-laws’ home because it had no toilet, the residents of the village of Zitudhana were shocked. Defecation in the open was usual even among the few graduates in the village, so the new bride’s decision made news in the community.

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  • Towards better sanitation

    Clean water and safe sanitation improve everyone’s health and opportunities in life. When people have clean water and safe sanitation, many diseases are less easily spread. But why is good sanitation so difficult to achieve?

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