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A pilot study of a portable hand washing station for recently displaced refugees during an acute emergency in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State, Ethiopia

Diarrheal disease is a common cause of morbidity and mortality. Displaced populations are especially vulnerable due to overcrowded camps and limited access to water and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk for outbreaks. Hand washing with soap is effective against disease transmission, and studies suggest access to a convenient hand washing station may be the key to increasing hand washing behavior. This pilot study evaluated the acceptability, durability and use of a novel hand washing bag (HWB) at the household level among Sudanese refugees immediately following an acute emergency. Baseline data suggested water quantity and availability of soap were below SPHERE standards, however participants responded positively to the HWB. The HWB performed well during the early phases of the emergency, however longer term results in this setting are unclear. The low levels of reported use measured by proxy indicators at six months indicated decreasing acceptability over time or a reflection of potential differences between the two sites. It is also unknown whether the HWB influenced hand washing behavior. Study findings were shared with the manufacturer in an effort to improve the bag's acceptability, utility, and durability.

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