Millions of people in low-income countries are vulnerable to infectious disease and other health problems because of lack of access to clean water, decent toilets or sanitation systems. To minimise these risks, our campaigns encourage good hand and household hygiene, safe handling and storage of drinking water, and show people how to build and use simple latrines.


Leading causes of deadly illnesses

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) related illnesses are some of the biggest killers of children under 5. Almost 300,000 children die worldwide every year from diarrhoeal diseases as a result of dirty water, poor hygiene or poor sanitation. In Sub Saharan Africa, 20% of people practiced open defecation, a common cause of diarrhoeal disease, and 59% of people had access to basic or limited hygiene (soap and/or water) in 2017.

Billions of dollars are being invested worldwide to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water and appropriate hygiene and sanitation in homes, schools, and medical centres. For this investment to have real, sustained impact, behaviour change interventions are needed to ensure all people use the facilities, and that they use them in the most effective way to prevent illness.

The numbers

children die every year from diarrhoeal disease worldwide
of Sub-Saharan Africa practiced open defecation in 2017
had access to only basic hygiene facilities
A still from DMI animation for WASH

Our WASH Work

Practical, convincing hygiene and sanitation messaging

Our WASH work is deeply embedded in the lived experience of our target audience. Our radio spots and short films encourage household and hand hygiene practices using affordable supplies such as soap that may be available in local household, school or community settings. We create dramatic content to share information about the health risks and ways of catching different diarrhoeal and neglected tropical diseases, motivating our audiences to adopt good maternal, household and hand hygiene practices and to avoid practicing open defecation. We have also created instructional content to share information about safe handling and storage of drinking water, and to show people how to build and use simple latrines.

Promoting proper hygiene and sanitation is a crucial part of improving maternal and child health, nutrition, and early childhood development as well as preventing emergent, infectious diseases. We therefore integrate WASH messages into many of our mass media campaigns, meaning we repeatedly reach millions of people with impactful, context-specific messages that improve health and save lives.