Gates Foundation Partners with WSP for Two Global Projects

The simple habit of handwashing can reduce sickness.  Improved sanitation services can help children avoid diarrhea.  With this new funding from the Gates Foundation, WSP will work with partner countries on two major global projects: Scaling Up Handwashing Behavior Change and Total Sanitation and Sanitation Marketing.  

Handwashing promotion to save lives

Handwashing with soap has the potential to prevent almost half of all diarrheal disease and up to 44% of respiratory infections. The $16 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the “Scaling Up Handwashing Behavior Change” project will allow WSP and its partner countries to accelerate large-scale field testing of the most effective handwashing with soap campaigns.  The project will encourage lasting handwashing habits among mothers and school-aged children in Peru, Senegal, Tanzania, and Vietnam. 

Sanitation to prevent disease

The sanitation crisis affects women and girls disproportionately. The goals of the “Total Sanitation and Sanitation Marketing” project, to be implemented over the next three years in India, Indonesia, and Tanzania, will be to stimulate people at the household and community level to demand better sanitation services.  Building on successful projects that have eliminated the practice of open defecation in rural communities, the project will create large-scale demand for sanitation in rural villages while also strengthening the capacity of the local private sector to respond to that demand. 

Initial sanitation data in Bangladesh indicates that coverage has risen at an unprecedented yearly rate of more than ten percent since 2003 when a community focused approach was adopted to raise awareness and build a buzz for improved sanitation services at the village level,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Manager of the Water and Sanitation Program.

The ambitious project seeks to reach an estimated one million people in each country. The global nature of these projects will help WSP and partners draw lessons and discover better ways to encourage healthy handwashing habits and increase sanitation coverage at large scale for other countries in the future. “Handwashing holds enormous – but unrealized – potential to save lives and reduce the burden of illness,” said Louis Boorstin of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This project will test advanced marketing methods that could substantially increase the rates of handwashing with soap in these four countries, helping children lead healthier, stronger lives and providing lessons applicable in other developing nations.”

Implementation of both projects will involve a range of local government agencies, NGOs and private companies in each country and will build on lessons learned from those who have pioneered these innovative approaches.

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Heather Worley
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