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Increasing access and demand for hand soap in Nepal


Nepal Handwashing with Soap Initiative



In the early 2000s, diarrheal diseases were killing an estimated 28,000 children every year in Nepal. Families with children under 5 and young mothers were especially vulnerable. Regular and appropriate hand washing with soap and water is the most important behavior in reducing these preventable diseases. In Nepal, successful interventions needed to increase 1) awareness of the link between hand washing with soap and disease reduction, 2) access to affordable soap, and 3) demand for soap and implementation of proper hand washing behaviors.


To address these needs, public-private partnerships were formed between international and Nepali organizations to increase awareness, access, and demand for hand washing with soap. UNICEF, USAID, Nepali government entities, and soap production/distribution companies joined efforts to create a coordinated intervention strategy. HDI, in association with this partnership, developed tools to support the Nepal Handwashing with Soap Initiative, including:


  • Social and consumer research tools to identify key knowledge gaps and barriers to soap access and use.

  • Revealed that most families practiced hand washing with water but did not believe that soap was important.

  • Identified priority regions, from urban areas to geographically isolated rural areas.

  • Identified key distribution points focused on schools throughout Nepal and their parents and siblings

  • Developed a strategy to generate support and participation from private sector companies.

  • Highlighted the benefits of expanding to new markets and increasing soap sales.

  • Coordinated a multimedia campaign that communicated the benefits and proper methods of hand washing with soap.

  • dvertisements aligned the product with the target’s desires of having a happy, healthy, successful family.

  • Depicted fathers, who make decisions on household purchases, providing soap for healthy families.


These partnerships created a “win-win” for youth and their families in Nepal and for public health advocates and for the private sector, in Nepal and internationally.

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