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Community Hygiene: Definition, Facts, and Impact in Rural Villages

In many countries, children learn valuable hygiene and sanitation knowledge at a young age. But, in large parts of the world, knowledge on how to prevent illness and maintain hygiene is not widely known or taught.

Community hygiene is the cooperative effort to bring greater health and prevention of disease to a group of people living near one another. It is foundational to social progress.

Core Community Hygiene and Sanitation Practices Include:

  • Washing hands with soap and water
  • Keeping dishes and utensils clean and off the ground
  • Using a toilet to keep feces separate from people
  • Sweeping the home and keeping rubbish off the floor to prevent environmental contamination
  • Keeping livestock separate from the home
  • Washing bodies regularly to maintain physical cleanliness

Community hygiene is vital to keeping everyone healthy, but especially those with weakened immune systems, those under the age of five years old, and the elderly.

What are the Benefits of Community Hygiene?

Community hygiene helps prevent infectious diseases from spreading throughout a neighborhood, school, compound, office space, and more. Hygiene practiced regularly creates healthier communities.

On a more global scale, community hygiene helps save lives of the world’s youngest children.

Right now, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children worldwide. According to UNICEF, 480,000 children under the age of five die each year; that’s 1,300 of the world’s youngest children lost to diarrhea in a day.

The primary cause of diarrhea is unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation and hygiene.

Community Hygiene
A child in rural Ethiopia at one of Lifewater’s community health meetings.

In addition, nine percent of the world does not have access to a toilet; people are using the bathroom outside in the open. This creates a dangerous environment, especially for children, who are often playing on the ground in these areas.

In places where people walk and do business, pathogens causing diarrhea and other illnesses pass along feet and hands and eventually to food and mouths.

When families construct their own pit latrine with four walls and a roof and wash their hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, they keep feces and flies separate from the rest of the community.

Community hygiene combined with safe water and proper disposal of waste saves lives.

RESULTS: HOW TO PREVENT THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CHILDREN >

Not only does community and environmental hygiene help protect young children, it reduces illness for everyone. Families are healthy and more productive. Children spend more time in school rather than recovering from illness.

And, with improved cleanliness, individual confidence is boosted.

A female student from Lifewater’s Ethiopia programs said, “I feel confident and beautiful because I keep my personal hygiene; you only have confidence to sit and talk to people if you are clean.”

Teaching Community Hygiene in Rural Villages

Successful hygiene education inspires real and lasting improvements to current hygiene practices. It also promotes positive attitudes towards practices that prevent the spread of disease.

It’s something that everyone can learn to do, no matter age, income level, or education attained.

But, when it comes to hygiene, community members must depend on knowledge and concern for each other to stop disease transmission. This is true everywhere, but it’s particularly vital in low to middle income countries where healthy community hygiene and sanitation knowledge is not widely accessible.

Lifewater works in East Africa and Southeast Asia to implement life-saving community hygiene, sanitation, and safe water access for villages in need. Environmental and community cleanliness are the first steps in the process towards safe water access.

Community Hygiene
A Lifewater health facilitator teaching the local community how to correctly wash their hands.
SEE WHICH HYGIENE HABITS MAKE A LIFEWATER “HEALTHY HOME” >

When beginning a new program, local Lifewater staff enter rural communities as listeners first. They build relationships with families and identify local leadership to understand the unique challenges and skills within the community.

With the permission and influence of local leadership, they then go house by house to help families adopt five sanitation and hygiene habits.

Community hygiene and environmental cleanliness improve quality of life everywhere, but especially in remote villages where hygiene knowledge and practices are uncommon.

What You Can Do to Impact Community Hygiene

When you give to Lifewater, you send local staff to villages in need and make a lasting investment in health. Health for young children. Health for pregnant mothers. Health for the elderly, people with disabilities, and the extremely poor.

Lifewater engineers design custom safe water solutions to meet the needs of that village, and our drill team constructs safe water sources built to last for generations. Addressing community hygiene, sanitation, and safe water access gives families an opportunity to thrive.

Right now, you can meet a family in need at lifewater.org, read their story, see their photos and know their names. You can give to their community, and change their lives.

READ STORIES OF VILLAGES IN NEED OF COMMUNITY HYGIENE >

Choose a Village. Change a Life.