What have we learned from the research of the Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE) on interventions in the area of hygiene?

The only way to ensure that interventions are effective is to focus on behavioral change. Promoting good practices for hygiene and sanitation can be done in various ways. Several studies have assessed the effect of hygiene promotion interventions on reducing the occurrence of diarrhea. A meta-analysis shows an average effectiveness of a relative risk reduction of 31% among young children.  

Reviews have also shown that programmes are more likely to be effective when they contain a limited number of messages. Additionally, people should be focusing on adopting ‘safe’ hygiene practices in the epidemiological sense instead of focusing on ‘good’ hygiene in the moral sense. Some studies also showed that programmes that included the provision of soap were more effective than those that did not.

What does this mean for Max Foundation?
Max Foundation recognizes that, regardless of whether there is access to water and sanitation, long-term changes in hygienic behavior are needed to prevent pathogens from being transmitted. Max Foundation sees generational behavior change as a vital component in ensuring that hygienic behaviors ‘stick’. Therefore, on top of providing hardware for water supply and sanitation, there is a strong focus on education through courtyard sessions. The evidence indicates that general hygiene programmes seem to work well in the short term. Especially studies on hand washing behavior show positive effects of hand washing education in preventing diarrhea.