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Hand Washing Knowledge

Indicator Phrasing

% of respondents who know at least 3 out of 5 key moments for hand washing
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of respondents who know at least 3 out of 5 key moments for hand washing

French: % des répondants qui connaissent au moins 3 des 5 moments clés pour le lavage des mains

Portuguese: % de inquiridos que conhecem pelo menos 3 dos 5 momentos-chave de lavagem das mãos

Czech: % respondentů se znalostí alespoň 3 z 5 hlavních situací vyžadujících umytí rukou

What is its purpose?

Although awareness often does not lead to action, it still is an important step towards behaviour change. This indicator therefore assesses whether people are aware of at least 3 out of 5 times when washing hands is most important.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews with a representative sample of your target group members:



Q1: Can you please tell me all the important occasions when people should wash their hands?


1) after going to the toilet

2) after attending to a child who has defecated

3) before preparing food

4) before feeding a child

5) before eating

6) none of the above mentioned

7) I don't know



1) multiple answers possible

2) do not read the answers

3) keep probing: "Do you know about any other moments when people should wash their hands?"



To calculate the indicator's value, divide the number of respondents who knew at least 3 out of 5 key moments for hand washing by the total number of respondents. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by gender and age groups.

Important Comments

1) While having certain knowledge is important, it is often a poor predictor of human behaviour. Assessing whether the target households have a handwashing facility with water and soap is likely to give you more valuable data. 


2) If you know that the hand washing awareness among the population is likely to be high, consider changing the indicator to "... at least 4 out of 5 key moments" (instead of the existing 3 out of 5).


3) When asking people about when they should wash their hands, one of the most common (and logical) answers is "When my hands are dirty". Although such answer is not included among the commonly promoted "5 critical moments", it is of course a correct answer. When a data collector receives such an answer, s/he should always probe further by asking, for example, "Before and after which occasions are your hands dirty?" or "On what occasions do you think that hands must be washed, so that they are clean?"


4) BHA uses a similar version of this indicator: "percent of people targeted by the hygiene promotion program who know at least three (3) of the five (5) critical times to wash hands". 

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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