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Not everyone is aware that washing hands with soap can prevent diarrhoea and other sickness, or practices proper handwashing techniques. On 15 October 2014, people around the world joined together to celebrate Global Handwashing Day with this simple message: “Handwashing with soap is a do-it-yourself vaccine that prevents infections and saves lives.”

In July 2014, SNV WASH advisors and provincial government staff trained district government staff from the three target districts of the Sustainable Sanitation & Hygiene for All Plus programme on the integration of handwashing with soap into programme post-triggering/follow-up activities, with the aim of providing knowledge and facilitation skills for district government staff in mobilising behavioural change on handwashing with soap in more than 222 villages.

The SSH4A+ programme (2014-2015) is building  on the knowledge, profile and performance of the SSH4A programme (2010-2013), scaling methodologies and strategies for rural sanitation and hygiene in Lao PDR, while working to put the ‘back end’ of rural sanitation - including pit emptying and wate re-use - on the radar. The programme is being implemented in collaboration with the Savannakhet Provincial Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Office (PRDO) and its offices in Atsaphon, Phin and Xonabouri districts.

Now, after the end of the rainy season, district facilitator teams are busy initiating changes in improved sanitation and hygiene in a number of rural villages in their districts, where the task of improving rural populations’ handwashing behaviours remains a challenge. Despite their busy schedule of field surveys and hygiene promotion activities, the SNV Laos WASH staff and government officers from Savannakhet province and the 3 target districts joined the celebration of Global Handwashing Day, using soap from different locations around the country.