Celebrating the Clean Household Approach


Green Arm
Orange Arm
Blue Arm
Yellow Arm
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Magenta Arm
Kids washing hands
African Mother with Newborn

Credit: Save the Children

Credit: Kate Holt/Jhpiego

Fortunately, many of these deaths can be prevented

by handwashing with soap.


In fact, a study in Nepal found that birth attendant and maternal handwashing were associated with a 41% lower mortality

rate for newborns.



Handwashing with soap also reduces infections in mothers and children during pregnancy and childbirth.

A simple act saves lives.

Handwashing with soap is an extremely effective and cost-effective intervention to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea in children.



Newborns – especially those born prematurely and of low birth weight – can easily become infected with harmful pathogens encountered before, during and after birth. These infections account for nearly 30% of total

newborn mortality globally.


With the Clean Household Approach, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) promotes

four key caregiver behaviors to improve maternal, newborn and child health:

  1. Treating drinking water for children ages 6-24 months
  2. Disposing safely of human feces
  3. Providing clean play spaces for children under two
  4. Handwashing with soap, especially before touching or feeding children
Indian Women with water jugs on heads

By promoting handwashing at these critical times, MCSP aims to provide

expectant mothers with a hygienic birthing experience, reduce

newborn infections, and improve nutritional outcomes in

children under the age of five.

The Clean Household Approach works to generate behavior change and

demand for household handwashing stations and soap.

African Man washing hands from outside bucket

Research shows that health is not a primary motive for adopting WASH facilities and behaviors. Rather, perceived wealth, convenience, and

social status are more influential behavior-change motivators.


 Therefore, MCSP works to incorporate these themes into its work.

To sustain handwashing behaviors, it is critical to increase the number

of homes with dedicated handwashing stations and to make soap consistently available for convenient and routine handwashing.


MCSP links households with local markets and other

development partners, and involves government in program

activities. We also promote tippy taps where access to

handwashing stations is limited.

This Global Handwashing Day, we must remember:

we will end preventable child deaths when we reach the

most marginalized children and ensure they

receive the same preventive care.

The Clean Household Approach is helping to

maximize household access and use of handwashing stations

and soap to ensure that no child dies of hygiene-related illnesses.


Credit: Indrani Kashyap/Jhpiego

Credit: Claryce Auma/Jhpiego

Credit: Save the Children

Credit: Kate Holt/Jhpiego

This slideshow was originally published on USAID’s website.

Credit: Kate Holt/Jhpiego

Credit: Kate Holt/Jhpiego

Credit: Ali Khurshid/Jhpiego

Maternal and Child Survival Program