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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Stockholm World Water Week: Taking stock and casting a vision

August 24, 2015

World-Water-Week-2015This year at Stockholm World Water Week, those of us in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector will take stock of the current status of the sector, but we will also look forward to what comes next—the Post-2015 landscape and the beginning of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I have had the opportunity to speak about the role of hygiene in the SDGs at WASH Advocate’s full day event on “Policy Innovations to Accelerate Change: A WASH Advocacy Peer-to-Peer Networking Opportunity” and at the 20th SuSanA meeting. I was also pleased that the sanitation and hygiene target within Goal 6 of the SDGs was mentioned numerous times during Sunday’s session titled “Kick-Start Development through Holistic Scaling-up of School Sanitation.”

In this session, Bella Monse (GIZ) spoke about the process of working to expand and scale the Fit for School program. She shared a readiness assessment tool developed to measure if countries are well positioned to scale up their programs. Ensuring that critical components such as policy support, program management, human capacity, and sustainable financing are appropriate is essential to both scale and long-term sustainability.

Oliver Schmoll (WHO) reminded us that the provision of toilets is only one component of school sanitation. They must be used and maintained. Certainly, the same is true for handwashing stations. To that end, Lizette Burgers from UNICEF, and a PPPHW Steering Committee Partner, spoke passionately about the need to promote sustainability in school sanitation and hygiene programs by changing behavior, specifically through habit formation. We couldn’t agree more, which is why we co-hosted with a Webinar on this topic with the USAID/WASHplus project earlier this year.

If we hope to achieve Target 6.2 we will need an indicator for hygiene (a topic about which I’ve written extensively before), but we will also need to undertake the actual work of implementation. We must learn from successful programs, such as Fit for Schools. We must continue to explore the hidden drivers of behavior change, such as habit. And, we must collaborate across sectors.

While the conference is just getting started I remain positive about the potential for a higher hygiene profile than in years past, and I hope that these conversations about hygiene will ultimately translate into action—through both hygiene promotion at the project level and through increased advocacy. Regardless of if you are here in Stockholm or reading this from afar, I encourage you to be involved in the dialogue. Follow us on Twitter @HandwashingSoap, use the hashtag #WWWeek, and advocate for hygiene (more information on that is available here).

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