A photo from the Airbel Impact Lab archive

Pilot study of a portable hand-washing station for recently displaced refugees during an acute emergency

Diarrheal disease is a common cause of morbidity and mortality. Displaced populations are especially vulnerable due to overcrowded camps and limited access to water and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk for outbreaks. Hand washing with soap is effective against disease transmission, and studies suggest access to a convenient hand-washing station may be the key to increasing hand washing behavior. This pilot study evaluated the acceptability, durability, and use of a novel hand washing bag at the household level among Sudanese refugees immediately following an acute emergency. This was the first known acceptability study of a portable hand-washing device at the household level during an acute emergency among a recently displaced population. In this evaluation, the hand-washing bag performed well during the early phases of the emergency (first three months) when the risk of disease transmission is usually highest and basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services are often insufficient; however, longer term outcomes are unclear.


  • A pilot study of a portable hand washing station for recently displaced refugees during an acute emergency in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State, Ethiopia