Assessing the Motivations, Barriers, and Enabling Factors for Hand Washing Behaviors in Refugee Camp Settings

Diarrhea is one of the leading killers, globally and in refugee camps, and strong evidence indicates that hand washing with soap is one of the most effective interventions available to reduce the incidence of diarrhea. Yet little is known about why people in refugee camps do or do not wash their hands, and what approaches will increase hand washing. To address this gap, the IRC conducted formative research in three refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Thailand. The study aimed to understand hand-washing behavior in long-term refugee camp populations, and to explore how formative research could be used to improve hygiene promotion programs. A major finding of the study was the lack of correlation between reported knowledge and actual behavior, and the value of both quantitative and qualitative data in informing hygiene promotion efforts.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.