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Life skills

Health education: Sanitation and hygiene

Improving sanitation, safe water supplies, and personal and food hygiene can greatly contribute to disease reduction, particularly those diseases and infections spread through human faeces. A crucial component of hygiene improvement programs is hygiene education. Using a skills-based approach to hygiene education, rather than providing information only, can enable students to:

  • identify and avoid behaviours and environmental conditions that are likely to cause water- and sanitation-related diseases (e.g., problem solving, decision making)
  • communicate messages about diseases and infection to families, peers and members of the community (e.g., communication skills, interpersonal relationship skills)
  • encourage others (e.g., peers, siblings and family members) to change their unhealthy habits (e.g., critical thinking, communication skills, interpersonal relationship skills).

UNICEF's Water, Environment and Sanitation section has created a web resource on School Sanitation and Hygiene Education, which outlines a skills-based approach to sanitation and hygiene, identifies specific life skills that are relevant, and provides case studies of countries already implementing skills-based sanitation and hygiene education.

School Sanitation and Hygiene Manual
A comprehensive discussion and guidance document on both hardware and software aspects needed to bring about changes in schools, in the hygiene behaviour of students and, through these students, in the community at large. The Manual On School Sanitation and Hygiene is produced in partnership with IRC, the International Water and Sanitation Centre.

Hygiene Promotion Manual
This manual presents a methodology for bottom-up programming for hygiene promotion: first finding out what people know about hygiene through formative research in people's knowledge and practices, and then combining this with state-of-the-art expert knowedge and appropriate communication strategies to develop effective and sustainable programming models. This manual was produced in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Ministry of Health of  Burkina Faso.

Stemming from poor sanitation and hygiene, helminth infections are a critical problem, affecting millions of schoolchildren's well-being, learning potential, growth and development. For more information on a skills-based approach to reduce helminth infections, see:  Strengthening Interventions to Reduce Helminth Infections: An Entry Point for the Development of a Health-Promoting School, WHO School Health Information Series, WHO, Geneva. (External link)



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