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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Our History

Our History

1998-2000: The pre-Global Handwashing Partnership years

Originally named the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW), the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) grew out of two large-scale handwashing programs whose success demonstrated the untapped synergies of public-private sector collaboration, and the important role of consumer research and consumer-centered marketing in driving handwashing behavior change.

One of these projects, Programma Saniya, which was implemented in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, showed that careful consumer research at the outset of a handwashing promotion program results in better targeted program activities and therefore, greater levels of handwashing behavior change. The Ministry of Health and Community Groups promoted behavior change by encouraging mothers to wash their hands with water and soap after changing diapers. During a period of three years, the program averted some 9,000 diarrheal episodes, 800 outpatient visits, and 100 deaths. These results were achieved all at a cost of US$0.30 per participant.

The other project, the Central American Handwashing for Diarrheal Disease Prevention Program, demonstrated that working with a broad partnership of public and private sector stakeholders with a mutual interest in increasing handwashing with soap was an effective approach to promoting hygiene behavior change on a large scale. The program also highlighted the need to focus on the one behavior with largest potential health impact—handwashing with soap—and to promote it with cost-effective, consumer-centered marketing. In collaboration with the public sector, four private companies launched handwashing campaigns in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. The initiative sought to improve handwashing rates to reduce diarrheal disease in children under five.

The evaluation of these programs piqued the interest of several organizations across the public and private sector, which ultimately led to the creation of the Global Handwashing Partnership.

2001: The formation of the GHP

The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing was officially created with members from multilateral organizations, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, private sector companies, and USAID in 2001.

2002-2007: Launch of GHP pilot programs

The GHP secured funding to pilot and collect lessons learned from handwashing promotion programs in Ghana, Senegal, and Peru. The GHP’s advocacy work and the results from these three pilot programs led to the establishment of local public-private partnerships promoting handwashing in 12 additional countries: Benin, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam.

2008-Present: Knowledge and advocacy

Having evaluated the current needs in the global handwashing sector, in 2008 the GHP took a new direction, focusing on knowledge sharing and advocacy activities. The aim of these initiatives is to empower handwashing practitioners and policymakers and to improve the integration of effective handwashing behavior change into international development programs. Learn more about what we do today here.

The same year, the GHP initiated the first Global Handwashing Day, mobilizing 120 million children to wash their hands with soap in 73 countries across five continents on October 15, 2008. The following year, 200 million children in 600,000 schools celebrated Global Handwashing Day in 83 countries. Ever since, Global Handwashing Day has been celebrated around the world on an annual basis. To read about how Global Handwashing Day was celebrated last year, or to find out how you can participate in Global Handwashing Day, please visit the website.

Who We Are

Our members include experts from government, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, and academic institutions.

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Join Us

There are many ways you can work with us. Find out about membership here.

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