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How is hygiene behaviour affected by conflict and displacement? A qualitative case study in Northern Iraq

This research aimed to qualitatively explore whether the determinants of handwashing behaviour change according to the duration of displacement or the type of setting that people are displaced to. We conducted an exploratory qualitative study in three different post-conflict settings in Northern Iraq-a long-term displacement camp, a short-term displacement camp, and villages where people were returning to post the conflict. We identified 33 determinants of handwashing in these settings and, of these, 21 appeared to be altered by the conflict and displacement. Determinants of handwashing behaviour in the post-conflict period were predominantly explained by disruptions to the physical, psychological, social and economic circumstances of displaced populations. Future hygiene programmes in post-conflict displacement settings should adopt a holistic way of assessing determinants and design programmes which promote agency, build on adaptive norms, create an enabling environment and which are integrated with other aspects of humanitarian response.

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