Author: Nicolas Ajzenman, Sebastian Galiani, Paul Gertler and Alexandra Orsola-Vidal
Full Citation: Ajzenman, N., Galiani, S., Gertler P., and Orsola-Vidal, A. (2015). Promoting Handwashing Behavior in Peru: The Effects of Large-Scale Community and School-Level Interventions. Health Economics.
Target Population(s): Children (6 to 12), Communities, Early Childhood (0 to 5), Learner, Youth (13 to 24)
Changing handwashing behavior is a complex phenomenon involving personal habits. Researchers evaluated the impact of a large-scale handwashing intervention in Peru that introduced an innovative mix of mass media campaigns along with more intensive community activities, including educational sessions for caregivers and a handwashing curriculum in some schools. The program was effective in reaching its targeted households, improving knowledge related to handwashing, and modifying behaviors; however, these behavioral changes did not translate into better child health.
The results of this evaluation suggest that mass media promotional campaigns, when coupled with more intensive and personalized treatments such as community and school-based activities, are effective in reaching target audiences, and can increase knowledge and induce behavioral change. Nevertheless, improving child health through these mechanisms remains a challenge, and more research is needed on how to effectively reduce sanitation-related illnesses.