Volume 89, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



We assessed whether supplying soap to primary schools on a regular basis increased pupil hand washing and decreased hand contamination. Multiple rounds of structured observations of hand washing events after latrine use were conducted in 60 Kenyan schools, and hand rinse samples were collected one time in a subset of schools. The proportion of pupils observed practicing hand washing with soap (HWWS) events was significantly higher in schools that received a soap provision intervention (32%) and schools that received soap and latrine cleaning materials (38%) compared with controls (3%). Girls and boys had similar hand washing rates. There were non-significant reductions in contamination among intervention school pupils compared with controls. Removing the barrier of soap procurement can significantly increase availability of soap and hand washing among pupils; however, we discuss limitations in the enabling policy and institutional environment that may have prevented reaching desired levels of HWWS.

[open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Re-use License which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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  • Received : 19 Jun 2012
  • Accepted : 30 Jun 2013
  • Published online : 09 Oct 2013

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