Global Scaling Up Handwashing Behavior Change Team Meets in Peru

From May 14-19, Handwashing Coordinators from Peru, Senegal, Tanzania, and Vietnam came together to share lessons and advances of the country campaigns aimed at promoting hand washing with soap.

The Scaling Up Handwashing Behavior Change Program is a global project implemented in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by the Water and Sanitation Program with the financial support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Initiated in December 2006, the program is being implemented in four selected countries:  Peru, Senegal, Tanzania, and Vietnam and seeks to reach 5.4 million people in four years. Main objective is to reduce diarrhea incidence, especially in children under five, by means of proper hand washing with soap at critical times (e.g., post defecation, prior to preparing food, etc.). The broader vision of this initiative is to show handwashing with soap at scale as one of the most successful and cost-effective interventions for improving health.


The meeting in the SacredValley, Cuzco aimed at sharing lessons learned, agreeing on key elements of the learning strategy, identifying challenges and possible solutions, and consolidating involved staff members as a global team. Representatives of the four countries, as well as members of the project management based in WashingtonDC participated in the workshop.


We learned that being successful is a matter of the group - each of our Countries will be successful if the others are too”, commented Rocio Florez, Peru Handwashing Task Manager, “This lesson has changed my vision of the project and has made me understand that we need to move as a Global Team”.


In the field


The meeting included also a study tour to the province of Anta, where participants had the opportunity to get immersed into the implementation process in Peru. There, a meeting with the Provincial Mayor and his Council was held and attendees witnessed the signing of the Handwashing Ordinance that institutionalizes the initiative in this area.


Additionally, participants observed the validation of a new methodology for parent’s school to involve them as key actors for the promotion of this practice at household level.

Participants also visited a primary school to get insights of how trained teachers are including handwashing with soap as part of the school curricula.


Advances of the Handwashing Initiative in Peru


The Handwashing Initiative in Peru is a public-private partnership comprised of 40 institutions joining efforts to promote this hygiene practice to reduce diarrhea in children under five years of age. The initiative concluded its first implementation phase at the beginning of 2007, consolidating a learning process related to communication oriented at behavioral change and the management of partnerships for sustainable change. The first phase was implemented in 14 regions in Peru and included public campaigns, promotional events, and over 270 training workshops for 8,600 health promoters and teachers, and agreements with public and private institutions, as well as the publication of municipal by-laws.


Additionally, preliminary results have been documented, such as a 33% increase in message recall in mothers, increases of 42% in mothers and 30% in children in the reception of information related to handwashing, as well as 90% of children sharing information with parents in their homes. Currently, the initiative is in its second implementation phase (2008-2010), which seeks to change the behavior of 1.3 million mothers in 23 regions of the country based on an impact evaluation approach.


The focus of the second implementation phase is a rigorous impact evaluation approach in order to effectively measure results and contribute to a wider learning on behavioral change. The baseline field work has already started, as well as the advocacy strategy is being implemented in 8 regions. Four Ministries join the Handwashing National Committee.


A global program, a global goal


The global project will test whether innovative promotional approaches can generate widespread and sustained increases in handwashing with soap at critical times among the poor and vulnerable. In addition, it will undertake structured learning and dissemination process to develop evidence, practical knowledge and tools for effective replication and scaling up of future handwashing programs, reaching over 250 million people in more than 20 countries by 2020.


Contact Name: 
Rocio Florez
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