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Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development In Press, Uncorrected Proof © IWA Publishing 2014  |  doi:10.2166/washdev.2014.119

The neglect of hygiene promotion in developing countries, as shown by the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water survey

Alejandro Jiménez, Sue Cavill and Sandy Cairncross

Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Barcelona, Spain and Stockholm International Water Institute, Drottninggatan 33. 11151 Stockholm, Sweden E-mail: alejandro.jimenez@siwi.org
GLAAS consultant, World Health Organization, Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel St., London WC1E 7HT, UK

First received 12 September 2013; accepted in revised form 26 November 2013. Available online 28 January 2014


The UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report is one of the three periodic UN reports dealing with water supply, sanitation and hygiene. This paper analyses the data on hygiene promotion which were collected for the 2012 edition, but not included in the report. Despite the limitations of the information, this is the best picture available of the global status of hygiene promotion in developing countries. Results show the low priority given to hygiene when it comes to implementation. On average, the staff in place meets 40% of the estimated needs to achieve national targets. Countries report that over 60% of their population is reached by hygiene promotion messages, but we estimate that there are barely enough hygiene promoters to reach 10% of the people. Government officials' greatest concerns are the lack of human resources and funds, but they also point to the absence of strategy, responsible agency and basic coordination and monitoring mechanisms as challenges. This has serious implications for the poor working conditions and low recognition of hundreds of thousands of hygiene promoters, who in most cases are women capable of playing a crucial role for public health. There is an urgent need for further development of capacity for hygiene promotion in developing countries.

Keywords: developing countries; GLAAS report; global monitoring; hygiene promotion; public health; United Nations

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