e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to prevent diarrhoea

Persistent diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death globally among children under five years old – second only to pneumonia. It can also contribute to nutritional deficiencies, reduced resistance to infections, impaired growth and development. More than half of child deaths due to diarrhoea are associated with malnutrition.

Lack of access to safe, clean drinking-water and basic sanitation, as well as poor hygiene cause nearly 90% of all deaths from diarrhoea. A number of interventions are effective in preventing diarrhoeal diseases and thereby positively impacting the nutritional status of those most vulnerable. These are:

  • improved water supply
  • water safety planning (the management of water from the source to tap)
  • household water treatment and safe storage
  • improved sanitation facilities
  • hygiene education (e.g. hand washing after toilet use and before the preparation of food).

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents


Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:30 CET

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Biological, behavioural and contextual rationale