Proper hand washing, when performed at critical times, is the single most effective way of preventing diarrhoeal diseases. Preferably hands should be washed using soap or a substitute such as ash or sand, and with vigorous rubbing of hands.

The five critical times are:

  1. Before preparing food,
  2. Before eating,
  3. Before feeding of children,
  4. After using latrine,
  5. After cleaning of babies’ bottoms.

The Oxfam Handwashing Station

The Oxfam Handwashing Station (OHS) has been designed through a collaborative process with designers, behavioural architects, public health professionals, and rigorously field tested and improved based on the feedback of users. In 2021, the OHS was tested at scale, with 4000 kits distributed across nine different countries. Initial findings show that the OHS actively promotes handwashing, with a 30% increase in observed handwashing behaviour when compared to handwashing devices available prior to installation of the OHS.

The Oxfam Handwashing Station and Handwashing Tap are available from the Oxfam Supply Centre

Handwashing Stations

Handwashing stations are places where people can wash their hands, typically situated outside of communal sanitation facilities. This technical brief gives guidance on how to implement handwashing stations, using either Oxfam's handwashing station kit or by making handwashing stations locally.

Oxfam Technical Brief: Handwashing Stations

The below video introduces an example of a ‘contactless’ handwashing station, developed by Oxfam in Bangladesh.

Handwashing Promotion

The following technical brief gives advice on how to promote the practice of handwashing within communities.

Oxfam Technical Brief: Handwashing Promotion

Mum's Magic Hands

Based on better understand the emotional motivators and barriers to handwashing in emergency contexts, Mum's Magic Hands is a behaviour change programme that can be used in any emergency context. Resources, research and all Mum's Magic Hands materials can be accessed on the new dedicated Mum's Magic Hands Website

Get all the Mum's Magic Hands Resources

Field guides:

Field Guide for Emergencies

Field Guide for Long-term Situations


Global Storyboard powerpoint version

Asia Storyboard powerpoint version

Africa Storyboard powerpoint version

Training Materials:

Training Guide

Training Script

Training Powerpoint Presentation

Minimum Requirements