Rural women at the heart of healthy hamlets in Nepal

At a rural outdoor location in Nepal, a woman wearing a red jumper and green skirt crouches down near a handwashing station. She is washing her hands as water flows from a water vessel with a tap, soap can be seen sitting next to it. She is facing away from the camera but you can see the corner of her smile.

A rural woman in a hamlet of Dailekh, Nepal, washes her hands with soap and water using a handwashing station at her home (SNV Nepal / Aastha Chhetri)


This rural women in a hamlet of Dailekh district, Nepal, understands that healthy communities start with healthy hands. She is among the many rural women in her community who rely on access to clean water and handwashing facilities with soap to ensure the health and wellbeing of their households and all those around them. Recent Water for Women project monitoring field visits to Dailekh found that households like hers are aware of and practicing proper hand hygiene at critical stages, including before food preparation, after touching waste and using the toilet.


This is the result of long-term work by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, through their Water for Women project, including the implementation of a Behaviour Change and Communication (BCC) strategy at rural municipal level during the past three years. The strategy includes door-to-door visits, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) product delivery to households by WASH entrepreneurs and engages local women’s and mothers' groups to share information on good handwashing behaviours, which are also circulated among the wider community.


Rural women form a large proportion of the agricultural work force in Nepal and play a vital, yet often unrecognised, role in agriculture that sustains nearly 80% percent of the population. Rural Nepalese women are also among the most disadvantaged when it comes to water and WASH access, many working 18 hour days, including long walks to collect water for livestock, crops and their households. Of 41,205 rural water supply schemes across Nepal, only around 26% are fully functional; 45% require repair and 26% need to be rehabilitated or replaced entirely.


Water for Women is partnering with SNV in Nepal to help change this situation. The Beyond the Finish Line: Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All project, supported by the Australian Government, has already benefitted over 170,000 people in two provinces of Dailekh and Sarlahi districts, Nepal, with access to socially equitable, inclusive and sustainable rural water supply services and hygiene. 



Learn how Water for Women partners are uniting for universal hand hygiene across the Asia-Pacific in our latest learning brief on Handwashing Behaviour Change

A blue graphic with the words 'Just launched' and a thumbnail of the cover of a HWS learning Brief

Healthy communities start with healthy hands! This Global Handwashing Day - and every day - Water for Women joins the call for universal hand hygiene through inclusive and sustainable WASH services and systems. Without it, we can’t achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation for all - upon which all 17 goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development rely.

As we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic - a time when heightened hand hygiene helped to protect us all - let's not lose the momentum. Now is the time to unite for universal hand hygiene, and to ensure sustainable WASH access for all.


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