July 15, 2015
Hygiene—specifically handwashing with soap—is one of the most important interventions for human health and development and is a universal necessity. Fundamental to fighting undernutrition, reducing child mortality, overcoming antibiotic resistance, and advancing access to education, hygiene underpins the delivery of several other Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately advances gender equity, dignity, and human rights.
However, while hygiene is included alongside sanitation in Target 6.2 of the current draft of the Sustainable Development Goals, hygiene is neglected in the Sustainable Development Goals at the indicator level. This means that hygiene would not be measured globally, the target to improve hygiene would not be monitored, and the Sustainable Development Goals might not improve hygiene as much as they could.
Given the massive role that hygiene plays in multiple areas of development, nearly 100 international corporations, non-governmental organizations, and coalitions have signed a letter asking the United Nations Statistical Commission and key Member States involved in determining proposed indicators to address this oversight.
Are you an individual who wants to lend your support to hygiene? Sign our petition!
July 15, 2015
As organizations working to advance access to water, sanitation, and hygiene globally, we welcome the creation of the Inter-Agency Expert Group and the work underway to agree measures of progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We acknowledge the importance of a streamlined framework, but respectfully express our concern that in the midst of this complex process, the intention to measure hygiene, expressed in draft target 6.2, has been put at risk.
The agreement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 later this year is a significant opportunity to catalyze global action on the water, sanitation, and hygiene crisis, which costs thousands of lives every day, in addition to considerable resources of families and economies. However, achieving this Goal depends on a global-level commitment to monitoring the different components of the Goal. Goal 6 cannot be achieved if hygiene, a key component, were to be omitted from the list of indicators. We are concerned to hear that the proposals issued to the IAEG on Monday, 1st June 2015 for the water, sanitation, and hygiene goal included indicators for water and sanitation but not hygiene. Absence of a hygiene indicator would result in omission of hygiene in implementation and monitoring strategies for Goal 6.
Hygiene is one of the most important interventions for human health and development and it is a truly universal necessity. Hygiene is fundamental to reducing child mortality, fighting undernutrition, overcoming antibiotic resistance, and advancing access to education. Ultimately, hygiene advances gender equity, dignity, and human rights. It underpins the delivery of several other Sustainable Development Goals. Every high income country has made hygiene a priority in workplaces and health care facilities. Despite this, hygiene has received inadequate prioritization at a global level. Omitting hygiene from global measurement would inhibit the potential of the international community to achieve the full impact of Goal 6.
If hygiene is neglected in the Sustainable Development Goals at the indicator level this will be to the detriment of those populations who have the most to gain through global development— the poor and vulnerable. We recognize the imperative to establish a limited number of indicators; however, we also echo the recently issued zero draft call for the ambition of the targets to be maintained through this process. Excluding hygiene from systematic global-level measurement will impede our ability to fully realize the development potential associated with improving water and sanitation, as well as the delivery of cross-sector strategies. In the spirit of ‘leave no one behind’, excluding hygiene from the list of indicators is planning for failure.
Since 2009, indicators for handwashing with soap in the household – a key element of domestic hygiene – have been developed and refined. The major international household surveys which inform global monitoring now include a standard module in which survey teams check for the presence of soap and water at a handwashing station. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation in its 2015 report highlights the resulting data from 54 countries, and shows that current levels of handwashing with soap are low in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the handwashing module is now standard in household surveys, monitoring of handwashing at regional and global levels will pose no additional burden on countries.
The omission of hygiene was a great loss to the Millennium Development Goals. We now have the opportunity to remedy this oversight, but instead we risk compounding it. We must ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated in the Post-2015 era. This means ensuring accurate measurement of progress towards both components of proposed Target 6.2, sanitation and hygiene.
We, the undersigned, sincerely believe that a global-level hygiene indicator is essential in pursuit of the bold mission set out in Target 6.2. We call upon you to speak up for hygiene and actively support reinstatement of a global-level hygiene indicator in the Sustainable Development Goal global-level indicator list.
Centre d’Assistance Feminine (CAS)*
Community Development Forum (CODEF), Nepal*
Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Ghana
Diorano WASH Network
New Restoration Plan, Malawi
Pakistani Youth Parliament for Water
Polokwane Chemical Suppliers*
Sanitation and Water Action*
Society for Water and Sanitation, Nigeria
Sustainable Aid in Africa International
Union des Amis Socio Culturels d’Action en Développement (UNASCAD)*
Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN)-Zambia
Women Environmental Programme – Nigeria
World Dynamic Action (WDA) – Haiti*
Youth Action for Development
Youth WASH Initiative Africa
*Indicates organizations not included on the initial letter
If you would like to receive regular updates from the Global Handwashing Partnership, please subscribe to our mailing list or follow us online.
© 2017 The Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP).