Access to clean water and sanitation facilities is necessary for the health of the population but will only contribute to reducing levels of disease if people are aware of hygienic practices. Hygiene cannot improve unless all individuals are educated about key practices such as hand washing, and are encouraged to make informed choices about their own behaviour.
Educating mothers about hygiene gives their children the best start in life, but information can also be transmitted from children and young people to their families and communities. Working with children in primary schools to teach them about breaking the cycle of infection, and helping them to communicate effectively are important factors in giving whole communities hygiene skills that will protect their health.
Clean water and sanitation facilities are crucial elements in improving hygiene. Establishing and maintaining these depends on central and local government developing effective policies. At the same time, local institutions and communities require the skills and structures to assess their needs, set up, manage and sustain facilities and establish systems for education and communication that will inform the population about how to use them.