Handwashing Communications Campaign Set for Vietnam

The Vietnam Handwashing Initiative (HWI) is preparing to launch a nationwide communications campaign.  In the pipeline are private sector-led marketing events that will be conducted in markets, health centers and other locations where mothers of children under five are most likely to be reached. 

Recruitment of a creative agency to help carry out the campaign is now underway.  The communications campaign will build on results of two recent research studies on handwashing and soap in Vietnam.  The HWI hosted a workshop in January 2007 to share the study findings.  

The first study, funded by the Water and Sanitation Program, recorded current rates of handwashing (both observed and reported), explored barriers and motivations to handwashing, and examined channels of communication among mothers of children under five.  Results of the study revealed:

  • Ninety two percent of mothers are handwashing at critical times, though 60 percent of those who wash their hands do not feel soap is necessary.
  • Barriers to handwashing with soap include:
    • The perception that soap is only necessary when hands are visibly dirty or smell bad.
    • Handwashing with soap is time consuming and inconvenient.
    • The real and perceived affordability of soap.
  • The number one perceived benefit of using soap is to get rid of unpleasant odors.
  • More than 80 percent of mothers watch TV while only 15-20 percent listen to radio or read newspapers.  

The second study, supported by the Asian Development Bank with funding from DFID, examined whether lack of access to soap was a barrier to handwashing and whether the poor could participate in the distribution system.  Results of the study concluded:

  • Eighty-seven percent of the sampled population currently use bar soap.
  • Access to soap products is not an issue - most people surveyed (users and nonusers) agree that “it is easy to find bar soap in the market.”
  • The two most important factors influencing bar soap purchase are: 1) a pleasant fragrance; and 2) anti-bacterial properties.  

With support from the Danish Embassy in Vietnam, a trust fund was established in December 2006 to launch the Vietnam HWI. Funds were allocated for designing the national communications strategy and plan, developing materials, purchasing mass media airtime, and conducting interpersonal communications activities via health workers and women’s union members. For complete results of these studies, please direct emails to Nga Kim Nguyen at wspeap@worldbank.org.

Contact Name: 
WSP East Asia Region
Contact Email: