Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
Our purpose is clear: we work in partnership with a global community of humanitarian actors, researchers and innovators to improve the quality of humanitarian action and deliver better outcomes for people affected by crises.
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Principal Investigators: Dr. Christoph Lüthi and Dr. Nadja Contzen (Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

What did the study set out to achieve?

This research aimed to provide scientific evidence on how to increase handwashing with soap among camp residents of the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh by increasing the functionality of handwashing devices.

The study investigated the role of individual and collective psychological ownership of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) committees and camp residents towards public and private handwashing infrastructure for their monitoring and maintenance activities in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Miriam Harter

Team Member (Ranas Ltd.)

Provision of handwashing infrastructure is key to ensure regular handwashing in a humanitarian setting. However, the functionality of such infrastructure is not always a given. We dedicate our research on the monitoring and maintenance of handwashing infrastructure and focus on the potential influence of psychological ownership on device functionality and, in turn, handwashing frequency to improve the current COVID-19 responses in humanitarian settings.

Expected Outcomes

Together with Eawag’s local partner, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), interventions will be developed to strengthen psychological ownership of handwashing infrastructure, as well as tailored checklists and guidelines for monitoring and maintenance of private and public handwashing devices. Partners and other members of the WASH cluster will use the developed materials in their COVID-19 responses in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

At a larger scale, the results will inform the discussion on improving intervention activities to increase handwashing by focusing on psychological ownership and its role for the functioning of handwashing devices.

Trained community volunteers carrying out visits to build ownership for shared WASH facilities in Cox’s Bazaar. Credit: Shafiur Rahaman, Eawag
A trained community volunteer carries out door-to-door visits in Cox’s Bazaar. Credit: Shafiur Rahaman, Eawag
Trained community volunteers in Cox’s Bazaar. Credit: Shafiur Rahaman, Eawag
Handwashing station at a public latrine in the Rohingya refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo credit: Florian Haas, Austrian Red Cross.

Latest Updates

Community volunteers begin household visits

Mar 2021

Trained community volunteers begin carrying out door-to-door visits to build ownership for shared WASH facilities in Cox's Bazaar. So far, 12 user group meetings, 69 household visits in intervention blocks and 101 household visits in control blocks have been conducted. The volunteer research assistants are doing a great job even with COVID-19 restrictions.


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