Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to prevent diarrhoea
Diarrhoea remains a leading cause of death globally among children under five years of age. Diarrhoea contributes to nutritional deficiencies, reduced resistance to infections and impaired growth and development. Severe diarrhoea leads to fluid loss, and may be life-threatening, particularly in young children and people who are already malnourished or have impaired immunity.
Diarrhoea mostly results from lack of safe drinking-water, adequate sanitation and hygiene. A number of interventions are effective in preventing diarrhoeal diseases, thereby positively impacting the nutritional status of those most vulnerable. These are:
- Access to safe drinking water (e.g. water safety planning (the management of water from the source to tap); household water treatment and safe storage)
- Access to improved sanitation facilities
- Hand washing with soap at critical times (e.g. after toilet use and before the preparation of food)
Hygiene promotion, along with access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation should be accessible by all.
Guidance information on drinking-water quality can be found in the document, Guidelines for drinking-water quality, fourth edition, under ‘WHO Documents’ below.
Status: not currently available
Other guidance documents
Guidelines for drinking-water quality, fourth edition
Water safety plan manual (WSP manual): step-by-step risk management for drinking-water suppliers. Geneva
Related Cochrane reviews
- Interventions to improve water quality and supply, sanitation and hygiene practices, and their effects on the nutritional status of children
- Interventions to improve water quality for preventing diarrhoea
- Hand washing for preventing diarrhoea
Other related systematic reviews
Water, sanitation and hygiene for the prevention of diarrhoea
Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to combat childhood diarrhoea in developing countries [pdf 989kb]
Effect of hand hygiene on infectious disease risk in the community setting: a meta-analysis
Interventions to improve water quality for preventing diarrhoea: systematic review and meta-analysis
Water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions to reduce diarrhoea in less developed countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis