2.4 billion people still live without a clean toilet. We think that stinks!
Still today, almost 40% of the world population do not have access to something as basic as a clean toilet. Hand-washing with soap before eating and after pooping - the most critical hygiene intervention – is not yet practised widely or consistently. The consequences are severe. The global economic damage of poor sanitation is estimated at a staggering $ 260 billion per year, with people in developing nations bearing the brunt of the burden. Diarrhoea caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and a lack of hygiene kills 800,000 children every year - that’s more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Now, under the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in September 2015, the global community has resolved to fix this and achieve safe WAter, Sanitation and good Hygiene (WASH) for all people with the next 15 years.
WASH United exists to help achieve WASH for all people by 2030.
Driven by a passionate, multidisciplinary team that brings together WASH experts with creative professionals, WASH United develops cutting-edge solutions in the fields of WASH advocacy and campaigns, behaviour change communication and the human rights to water and sanitation, and we partner with strong organisations that can implement at scale. We cannot achieve WASH for all alone. By working together, we can.
Since 2010, WASH United and partners have used our trade-mark play-based approach to train more than 200,000 children in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in good WASH behaviours (including menstrual hygiene management). Our campaigns and media work have reached more than 500 million people with critical WASH messages. Our advocacy work has helped to facilitate policy change at country level and catalyse commitment towards the realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation.
The acronym WASH stands for WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene. It is widely used in development cooperation to refer to interventions aimed at meeting people’s basic needs related to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Why we don’t build toilets
Ensuring that people have access to toilets and soap is necessary, but not sufficient. Decades of development work have shown that only a wanted toilet gets used and improves people’s lives. In other words: good sanitation (and hygiene) doesn’t begin between the buttocks, it begins between the ears. That’s what we focus on.
We tap into what people love and are passionate about.
Sanitation and hygiene issues are often communicated using negative, health-based messaging. This is not effective in changing people’s attitudes and desires, let alone establishing and sustaining new behaviour.
Based on insights from behavioural psychology, we have developed a unique approach to raise toilet use and good hygiene from a low priority to a personal aspiration. Whether it is a campaign to build awareness for the benefits of toilet use or a hand-washing behaviour change programme for schools, all of our interventions tap into things people love and are passionate about - such as play, sports, religion, role models - to create positive messages that connect with people emotionally and inspire change.
This approach has also enabled us to build new partnerships beyond the WASH sector, including with sports federations and other actors that have not touched the “touchy” issues of sanitation and hygiene before, enabling us to create exciting, cost-effective and replicable interventions that can achieve WASH advocacy and behaviour change outcomes at scale.
A cross-bred between a WASH sector NGO and a creative agency.
At WASH United, WASH sector experts work hand-in-hand with in-house senior-level creative professionals to develop new solutions to WASH challenges for our partners every day. Unlike external creative professionals one would bring on for a specific project, our in-house creatives have been thinking about toilets, sh*t and shi**ing every day, for years. It is this continuous multi-disciplinary engagement with the issue that allows us to develop solutions that are not just exciting and out-of-the-box, but that are thought through and work for sector partners.