27 April 2018

Hygiene Promotion and Community Mobilisation in Urban Settings

Hygiene promotion seeks to ensure the best use of the water, sanitation and hygiene-enabling facilities and services provided to refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

In Urban Settings, it is particularly challenging for humanitarian actors to provide a sustainable hygienic environment, as it is difficult to obtain official permission from local authorities or private landowners. Therefore, hygiene promotion activities focus on mobilising the affected population to take action on preventing and/or mitigating water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases. Enabling the participation of the affected communities is considered an effective way to define how public health can best be protected in the individual urban setting. The The Sphere Project Standards provides a ruling standard for efficient Hygiene Promotion interventions in urban settings:

  • 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 urban settings, where the displaced and the host communities live side-by-side in concentrated areas, mass media can be an effective means to disseminate information on hygiene promotion. However, hygiene promotion should as far as possible also take up an interactive approach and authorities should make sure that any obstacles (such as language issues) are tackled. Furthermore, a marked-based approach, where personal hygiene is marketed through local channels is equally as important in urban settings as the promotion.

The following set of guiding tools provides in-depth information on planning, facilitating and implementing hygiene promotion interventions in Urban Settings that aim to ensure that all concerned stakeholders (refugees and the host communities) have safe access to hygiene services of good quality. The descriptions include considerations regarding the target group, gender, appropriateness in the cultural context as well as guidelines for efficient coordination with partners and the affected population.

It is also recommended to refer to the SPHERE handbook, which goes beyond the traditional message of dissemination and hygiene item distribution by assessing the possibility of alternatives (e.g. the provision of cash to cover hygiene kits, vouchers and/or non-food items (NFIs)).

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): The Sphere Handbook. Rugby: Practical Action Publishing URL [Accessed: 19.10.2016]

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