Over ten million people benefit through Bihar Handwashing Programme

Over ten million people benefit through Bihar Handwashing Programme using geotag technology to drive programme performance

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), through its subsidiary Bhavishya Alliance Child Nutrition Initiative, has in partnership with Government of Bihar, and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, reached out to over ten million people in Bihar through the Bihar Handwashing Programme since November 2014.

The programme is one of the world’s largest and most intensive handwashing programmes. The beneficiaries include over 2.6 million children who have been reached in over 7,670-schools. The programme aims to reach 48 million people including 9 million children across 50,000 schools by 2018.

What is unique about the programme is use of technology to drive robust monitoring of the programme at scale. Through geo tagging, we track more than 1000 field staff working in 50,000 schools reaching 9 million schoolchildren for handwashing behaviour change. This data is accessible through an interactive web portal, which is used to view this data and take data-driven management decisions to drive the programme performance.

To make the handwashing education viable and sustainable in the long term, we will also focus on multi-sectoral, multi-level advocacy using information from our geo-tagging system on school infrastructure to influence delivery of services such as improving access to water sources for handwashing.

Mr. Sandeep Kohli, Executive Director, Personal Care, HUL said, “Every year, in India alone, 1.3 million children die before they reach the age of five, many due to preventable infections. Over 40% of these deaths occur in the neonatal period. Handwashing at the right occasions can prevent these deaths. We believe that companies like HUL have a key role in contributing to the health and hygiene agenda of the country. Our expertise in behaviour change programmes in the area of handwashing and our experience in developing and delivering innovative partnership models positions us uniquely in doing this.”

Over several years, HUL’s personal care brand Lifebuoy has developed and refined a handwashing campaign targeting school children with proven behaviour change programme known as School of 5. The School of 5 programme is built around ensuring 4 exposures within a span of 21 days , which as per research is the requisite time period to bring about behaviour change. Along with children, the Bihar handwashing programme is also educating millions of mothers and the community about the importance of hand hygiene during the crucial first 28 days after delivery.

The School of 5 programme is part of ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ campaign started in Thesgora in 2013-14, a village in Madhya Pradesh that had one of the highest incidence rate of diarrhoea. Through our handwashing behaviour change programme there was an overwhelming drop in incidence of diarrhoea from 36% to 5% as per the Nielsen study conducted during the period. Simple act of handwashing with soap is seen to be the single most effective intervention in reducing diarrhoea incidence. Lifebuoy ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ has since been scaled up in Bihar to reach 45 million.

Meanwhile, to mark the importance of handwashing with soap, Global Handwashing Week is being celebrated from 15th to 21st October across more than 300 schools with 1 lakh children and 600 promotors in Bihar. The Global Handwashing Week was flagged off by Hunada Nouss, COO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and George Koshy, General Manager, Hindustan Unilever Limited.

About Hindustan Unilever:

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods company with its products touching the lives of nine out of ten households in India. HUL works to create a better future every day.

About Help A Child Reach 5

Handwashing with soap saves lives. Lifebuoy’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases and illnesses like diarrhoea, by teaching lifesaving handwashing habits.

About Lifebuoy

As the world’s leading health soap, Lifebuoy aims to make a difference by creating accessible hygiene products (soap) and promoting healthy hygiene habits. With this in mind, Lifebuoy aims to change the handwashing behaviour and help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Since 2010, Lifebuoy has changed the handwashing behaviour of 337 million people.

For more information, please visit www.lifebuoy.com.

About Bhavishya Alliance Child Nutrition Initiatives

Bhavishaya Alliance Children Nutrition Initiatives (BACNI) is a Section 25/Section 8 company. It is a subsidiary and implementation arm of HUL that conducts projects related to child health.

About Children’s Investment Fund Foundation:

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) is the world’s largest philanthropy focusing specifically on improving children’s lives. Investing in children has the power to trigger big social and economic changes and we support bold ideas for children to survive and thrive, today and in the future. Areas of work include children and adolescents’ health and nutrition, child protection, early learning and smart ways to slow down and stop climate change.

For more information, please visit www.ciff.org ; Tweets @CIFFchild

About Unilever Sustainable Living Plan:

In November 2010, Unilever set out the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, committing to a ten-year journey towards sustainable growth. What makes the Plan different is that it applies right across the value chain. The Plan takes responsibility not just for Unilever’s own direct operations but also for suppliers, distributors and for how consumers use its brands.

The Plan has three big global goals:

  • By 2020, we will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being
  • By 2030, halve the environmental footprint of making and use of our products as we grow our business
  • By 2020, we will enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business.

Explore more on these topics:

Back to top


We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.


Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters or find contacts around the world.

Contacting us