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Global Handwashing Day, October 15

The 2018 Handwashing Behavior Change Think Tank Report: Perspectives from a WASH Sector Lead

June 28, 2019

By: Dr. Arne Panesar, Head of the GIZ Sector Program “Sustainable Sanitation”

The Global Handwashing Partnership’s Handwashing Behavior Change Think Tank in October 2018 brought hygiene experts from multiple sectors together to share their knowledge on learning and action in handwashing behavior change. Now, the conference report has been launched and provides readers with a comprehensive summary of the Think Tank’s activities.

As someone who has not participated at the Handwashing Behavior Change Think Tank myself, but who has been involved in the planning side of the event, I was looking forward to reading the report. It provides an excellent overview of the highly relevant topics that have been discussed during those three days. Dr. Bella Monse, who has participated as Senior Advisor of the GIZ Regional Fit for School Program, is also a team member of the Sector Program Sustainable Sanitation and these kind of knowledge exchanges are very valuable for our sector.

The way the report is structured allows the reader to search for specific themes or presentations and also provides the key highlights from insights about the experience from a great variety of experts. Going through the report makes it easy to imagine having participated in the discussions and the speaker profiles gives a face to the vast expertise in the sector.

The full version of the report also includes all presentations from the event and provides a good way to relate to the session summaries.

The unique combination of such a diverse group of experts provided a very interesting mix of inputs. In particular, the participation of the private sector, provided valuable insight into their perspective on hygiene behavior change. Reviewing the presentations of the latest evidence in handwashing research from WASH in communities as well as in schools and healthcare settings, will be valuable to inform our program’s work on hygiene.

It was also interesting to see how new innovations are being developed in the sector, like the “Super Towel” which can be used for handwashing in settings where soap is not available, and the “Wash‘Em”, which has developed rapid assessment tools to be used in humanitarian settings.

The learnings from this event will undoubtedly continue to provide the Think Tank participants as well as readers of this report with valuable insight into the complex topic of behavior change to inform our work as we all move forward.

About the Author: Dr. Arne Raj Panesar is heading the Sector Program “Sustainable Sanitation” of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH since 2014. He has more than 25 years of professional experience in research and development projects. Dr. Panesar holds a M.Sc. in Biology and a PhD in Aquatic Ecology (magna cum laude) both from the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau, in Germany. He has been teaching at this University since 2014, giving a seminar on the role and potential of development cooperation.

 

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