WASH First: Scaling WASH SDG efforts

A rapid but systematic response system to communicating good sanitation and hygiene behaviour against the backdrop of COVID-19, and beyond.



Through WASH First, SNV will support local communities and governments to improve access to COVID-19 hygiene prevention measures, and WASH-related information and services through awareness-raising campaigns. Implemented in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, the project will be active from September 2020 to November 2021.

Prevention is better than the cure. Since COVID-19 spiralled into a pandemic, many governments around the world have taken several measures to limit the further spread of the virus. Common measures taken include lockdowns, (self-)quarantines, social distancing, handwashing with soap, the use of face masks in public spaces, and numerous information campaigns focussed on hygiene. Proper handwashing with water and soap is considered to be one of the most effective means to reduce the spread of the virus. But handwashing requires access to running water, in sufficient quantities. People with no or limited access to quality water services, including groups of people who use communal or shared WASH services, are less likely to implement basic COVID-19 mitigation hygiene measures.

We are only as healthy as the most vulnerable members of society. It is imperative to leave no-one behind and redress those obstacles that keep vulnerable groups from accessing quality WASH services; in effect, placing them more at risk to the debilitating effects of COVID-19.

WASH is the first line of defence to curbing the spread of COVID-19.  WASH First is a project implemented by the Government of the Netherlands-funded WASH SDG Consortium. Implemented by SNV, WASH Alliance International (WAI), and Plan International Netherlands, WASH First seeks to prioritise access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as a key determinant of health in selected countries with relatively low WASH coverage.

Project goal

To promote health-related hygiene practices to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in at-risk countries, through awareness raising and implementing activities that improve access to WASH services.

Intervention areas

  • Awareness raising in COVID-19 prevention measures.

  • Direct information sharing and messaging.

  • Improving access to safe (drinking) water supply to facilitate handwashing with soap practice and enable menstrual health and hygiene management and other safe sanitation practices (e.g., the safe disposal of waste).

  • Improving access to safe handwashing facilities.

  • Improving access to hygiene products including soap, disinfectants, personal protective equipment (PPEs), and menstrual hygiene products.

  • Participating in COVID-related coordination meetings with local government and other stakeholders.

News and stories


People-led COVID-19 campaign reached half a million Kenyans

Detailed steps for handwashing are added onto facilities to help embed proper user practice

SNV partners in Uganda featured in COVID-19 Movers & Shakers

Health worker in Uganda makes a statement why we must act against COVID-19

Media partners in Kenya kickstart BeACOVID19Hero! campaign

COVID-19 prevention campaign starts in Kenya
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