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

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.


Oxfam Technical Brief: Handwashing Stations

Oxfam Technical Brief: Handwashing Promotion

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

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 could be used in any emergency context.

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

  • PHP staff should include an assessment of motivation and barriers to handwashing in all rapid WASH assessments and baseline surveys.
  • Handwashing should be addressed in all excreta disposal programmes, either at the latrine or in households - by the promotion of hand-washing techniques, and promotion and provision of soap or alternative.
  • All institutional and public latrines constructed by Oxfam should have hand-washing facilities provided with soap or an alternative.
  • Ensure adequate drainage around all hand washing facilities.