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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Event Summary: Daegu Day 2 – Where’s the H in WASH discussions in Daegu?

April 14, 2015

This blog is the second in a series of daily updates on handwashing at the World Water Forum 7 happening this week in South Korea. Our PPPHW Deputy Secretariat Director, Hanna Woodburn reports from Daegu. logo


Last night, I made a comment on Twitter about finding it hard to identify my favorite part of the first day of the World Water Forum. A fellow WASH sector practitioner was surprised and asked if I had any takeaways. So many fascinating conversations are happening here that his message helped me realize that at the end of Day 1, while I had many initial takeaways, the conversations are just getting started. I think my blog summary of Monday reflects that.

Today felt different though.  Throughout the day many of Monday’s themes recurred, particularly around the issues of inequity, access, and sustainability. However, what struck me most was the low showing of hygiene at the Forum. In the morning I attended a side event hosted by the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) and the African Development Bank about achieving access to water and sanitation in rural Africa. The first portion of the side event included three case studies about progress on these issues in Senegal, Burkina Faso, and India. Only one, the case from WaterAid India, mentioned work that was conducted around handwashing.


 Likewise, in a later session about the human right to water and sanitation, a speaker recounted how projects formerly ignored sanitation, with projects 90% about access to safe drinking water and 10% about access to sanitation. She noted that this was no longer the case, and argued that this represents a great success in the sector. It is excellent that sanitation is increasingly being addressed by those working on water projects. However, as I emphasized at the Forum yesterday, absent the inclusion of hygiene, the full health benefits of water and sanitation cannot be realized. We need progress not only on water and sanitation, but on hygiene as well. We need more hygiene champions within the water and sanitation sector to educate, encourage, and hold the sector accountable.

 Indeed, one of my main objectives in attending the Forum is to raise the issue of the all-too silent “H” in WASH. But the PPPHW cannot do it alone, and we aren’t. I had a number of conversations today with practitioners who agree that WASH must not revert to WATSAN. This is good, but we need more advocates in all regions and sectors. We must work together to ensure that WASH is not only addressed at the global level, but that it is done so systematically, effectively, and efficiently. Will you join us? The PPPHW has developed a easy-to-use hygiene advocacy toolkit (available here), which can help get you started. Raise your hand in support of hygiene today!

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