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Monitoring handwashing with soap in schools

Debora Bonucci

Hello everyone,

I would like to ask any idea or suggestion from your experience working on School WASH programmes on how to involve children in monitoring handwashing with soap.

The aim is to introduce monitoring activities in schools with active participation of schoolchildren in order to increase handwashing practices with soap applying a scientific method.

Many thanks,


5 Answers

Rodolphe Rakoto-Harisoa

Une des approches possibles est d'intégrer des représentants des élèves au sein du comité scolaire WASH (représentants des enseignants, représentant des parents d'élèves, représentant des enseignants). Le comité scolaire WASH se réunissent périodiquement pour évaluer la pratique des messages clés au niveau de l'école pour établir des plans d'action pour d'éventuel redressement. Chaque entité (enseignant, parent d'élève et élèves) partagent ensemble leurs observations par rapport au progrès observés et décident ensemble des mesures à mettre en oeuvre pour redresser la situation. Les représentants des élèves peuvent organiser des réunions entre déléguées des classes pour faire les partages et engager les élèves au suivi.


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ErikH gravatar imageErikH ( 2015-11-02 14:46:27 )
Alex Ndama

School WASH clubs can a good entry in monitoring hand washing using soap, the club members have been effective in monitoring proper use of school toilets and associated facilities. However for the approach to be successful the need to have a committed teacher to remind/and or check occasionally if everything is going as planned.


No matter how much children (and other people) understand about the importance of hand washing, what they do when nobody is looking is another matter. I had a classic case when evaluating a DfID WASH project recently when inspecting a rehabilitated school toilet block together with a group of teachers and project staff. A small boy came out of the toilet cubicle and headed for the door. It was quite comical the way he stopped and turned to head for the basins when he saw us all there. He clearly understood that it was something he should do but was only practicing it when he thought that he would be caught out! The only reliable way I found to check whether hand washing facilities were being used was to check if the basins and soap were wet. If the school childrenb are doing the monitoring it is probably that they should use as an indicator rather than what the other children say about their behaviours.


Based on evidence collected from an evaluation of several school WASH programmes in Kenya, monitoring handwashing in schools can be misleading if done by outsiders/project evaluators as children may tend to (wash hands or give a positive behavior change) once they notice an observer.

In an evaluation study, passive monitoring was seen to work, but regular monitoring and reporting was constraint as children and project teams couldnot employ this method. use of questionnares related to knowledge may give misleading results given that knowledge and practice of HW are normally conflicting with the later attaining lower scores.

School health clubs are better platforms to ue in monitoring of hygiene related behavior in schools but some critical steps in planning have to be considered and encouraged right from inception of the projects in schools..This include setting up strong software components that will trickle into sustained use once hardwares facilities are established. Using participatory approaches that trigger positive behaviors; e.g use of sports, drama or skits that highlight contamination routes through fingers/fields/fluids/food and faeces AND mapping out the roles and responsibilities of health club members and school patrons in an developed action plan are some areas that propel continuous hygiene promotion.

Indicators to monitor the action plan for hand washing include; roaster for replenishing water in hand washing facilities in place and utilized, where soap is not misused, the health club can monitor the amount of soap replenished on weekly basis. As a verification exercise, the patron can monitor by observing weather handwashing points appear wet.

HWWS requires continuous and efficient hygiene promotion strategies, for children to participate effectively in monitoring, their has to be a behavior change motivating engagement at own practise and even a child to childapproach

Debora Bonucci

Thanks a lot to everyone for the comprehensive answers. Yes WASH Clubs participation in monitoring hand washing using soap is critical as well as the presence of committed teachers and SMCs to oversees the activities and making sure soap is always available at the hand washing stations. Greetings, Debora