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Hygiene Promotion and Community Mobilisation in Camps

Overcrowding and poor living conditions in camps increase the risk of the proliferation of infectious and water-borne disease outbreaks such as cholera. However, good hygiene practices can prevent these tragic deaths and improve the health of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) living in camps.

In order to implement programmes to effectively enhance and protect the public health among displaced populations in camps, the Sphere Project provides Minimum Standards:

  • SPHERE, Hygiene Promotion Standard 1: Hygiene promotion implementation. Affected men, women and children of all ages are aware of key public health risks and are mobilised to adopt measures to prevent the deterioration in hygienic conditions and to use and maintain the facilities provided.
  • SPHERE, Hygiene Promotion Standard 2: Identification and use of hygiene items. The affected population has access to and is involved in identifying and promoting the use of hygiene items to ensure personal hygiene, health, dignity and well-being.

In Camps, hygiene promotion has the greatest impact when focusing on the most disease-transmitting practices and on high-risk vectors. This focused approach requires effective hygiene promotion strategies that should be planned in a strategic, systematic and participative manner in order to promote positive behavioural change around hygiene.

The hygiene promotion strategies in camps should use baseline surveys to understand the existing levels of knowledge, acceptance and practices around hygiene, which hygiene items are appropriate to provide, and what the behavioural and cultural norms are in the incoming camp population. It is vital that messages are clear, consistent, harmonised and delivered soon after the refugees’ arrival. The messages should be delivered in the local language or with the use of pictorials if literacy is low (in which case interactive methods may be most effective). Hygiene strategies should be adjusted based on changing needs through different stages of the camp’s life cycle using regular monitoring.

The following guiding tools provide in-depth information on planning, facilitating and implementing hygiene promotion interventions in camps. 

Library references

The Sphere Handbook

This appendix of SPHERE handbook is a water supply and sanitation initial needs assessment checklist. This list of questions is primarily for use to assess needs, identify indigenous resources and describe local conditions. It does not include questions to determine external resources needed in addition to those immediately and locally available.

THE SPHERE PROJECT ; (2011): Rugby: Practical Action Publishing URL [Accessed: 19.10.2016]

WASH in Camps

UNHCR ; (2015): UNHCR ; (2015): Emergency Handbook. Geneva: . URL [Accessed: 19.10.2016]

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