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"Only a wanted toilet is a used toilet is a toilet that changes the world - one poop at a time."

- Thorsten Kiefer, CEO and Founder of WASH United

It’s hard to believe that globally, 4 out of 10 people lack access to something as basic as a clean toilet.

It’s hard to believe that diarrhoea caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and bad hygiene kills more children than malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS combined.

Believe it.

"Wouldn’t simply providing clean water, toilets and soap to everyone solve this?"

Building toilets alone does not solve the problem nor does providing free soap. Countless “unwanted” toilets are scattered around the world, and, even though most poor people have soap, it is rarely used for hand-washing. To tackle the problem effectively, efforts to provide WASH infrastructure must always come hand-in-hand with efforts to change attitudes and behaviors around sanitation and hygiene. That’s where WASH United comes in.

Transforming toilet access and good hygiene into a personal aspiration

Sanitation and hygiene issues are often communicated using negative, health-based messaging. This is not effective in changing people’s attitudes and desires, let alone establishing and sustaining new behavior.

The WASH United formula: fun, games, superstar role models and positive communication

Based on insights from behavioural psychology, we have developed a unique approach that helps to raise toilet access and good hygiene from a low priority to a personal aspiration. Whether it is a hand-washing awareness campaign or a WASH in Schools programme, all of our interventions harness the power of fun, interactive games, superstar role models and messaging that inspires.

Our proven formula enables us to build new partnerships beyond the WASH sector, resulting in exciting, cost-effective and replicable interventions that can achieve WASH advocacy and behavior change outcomes at scale.

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Learn more about our recent activities

Wardha/Maharashtra, 28 September – 6 October 2012

The village famous for housing Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, Wardha was the place where the Nirmal Bharat Yatra (or the Great WASH Yatra) kicked off. Despite torrential rains postponing the opening of the carnival for two days, over 13,000 people attended the first stop of the traveling sanitation carnival. Additionally, 9 schools were given WASH in Schools trainings with 20 teachers and 1,009 students trained.

Indore/Madhya Pradesh, 7 October – 15 October 2012

The second stop on the Yatra, Indore was marked by celebrations of Global Hand-washing Day (October 15) including a special appearance by the world’s largest hand-washing ambassador: Bulbule the elephant. Over 24,000 people visited the carnival in Indore and 31 schools were given WASH in Schools trainings with 26 teachers and 1,773 students trained.

Kota/Rajasthan, 16 October – 23 October 2012

Over the course of our two-day stay in Kota, 33,000 people - young and old - came through the gates of the Yatra. The city of Sangod saw the riveting premiere of WASH Star, an entertaining talent show featuring singing and dance performance by local youth. Overall, Kota received 33,000 visitors, in which WASH United was able to train 42 schools, 42 teachers and 1079 students.

Gwalior/Madhya Pradesh, 24 October – 1 November 2012

The 4th stop on the Yatra coincided with the Dussehra festival wherein an effigy of the evil god Ravana is burntm symbolising the triumph of good over evil. We built a 20ft Ravana effigy to resemble the Nirmal Bharat Yatra’s archenemy, the Dastasura or “diarrhea demon.” Burning it symbolised our commitment to end India’s sanitation and hygiene crisis. Here, 23,000 visitors visited the carnival and 18 schools were trained along with 40 teachers and 1,394 students.

Gorakhpur/Uttar Pradesh, 2 November – 9 November 2012

On the second to last stop on the Yatra, this city was met with nearly 31,000 attendees pushing the total number of visitors to the Yatra to over 100,000. 19 schools were trained with 29 teachers and 1,305 students trained.

Bettiah/Bihar, 10 November – 19 November 2012

The Yatra concluded in Bettia in the days leading up to World Toilet Day on November 19th. The Grand finale of WASH Star was won by local student Sapna Kumari with her powerful cricket-themed performance set against the backdrop of WASH United champions from Gorakhpur, Gwalior and Kota. During these 10 days, over 36,000 visitors attended and 17 schools were trained 22 teacher and 1858 students trained.

Accra, Ghana

In Accra, we are developing new elements within our WASH In Schools curriculum that integrate the human rights to water and sanitation. We're determined to have students, teachers & school administrative officialsbecome actively involved in creating change to the insufficient WASH infrastructure in schools.

Nairobi, Kenya

To celebrate the success of WASH United’s school and football club trainings that reached over 7,500 youth in Kenya, WASH United held a fun-filled festival in celebration of World Water Day at Nairobi’s city stadium on March 23rd. Over a thousand people attended including locally famous football stars.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On November 25th, 2012, Handy and Soapy became the first-ever hand-washing ambassadors to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run. Along with 36,000 participants from all over the world, the hand-washing mascots cheered on WASH United champion Haile Gebrselassie as he welcomed the finalists.

Kampala, Uganda

Working through UWASNET (the Uganda Water and Sanitation Network), WASH United implements both campaign activities on a large scale that target slum areas as well as in WASH in Schools through CIDI (Community Integrated Development Initiatives). WASH United is also partnering with the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), GIZ and Gyaza High School on WASH on hygiene trainings in government schools, public toilets and health Institutions.
Photo credit: Will Boase/ Busoga Trust

Uganda, Kampala

In December 2012, the CECAFA Cup took place at the Mandela National Stadium. WASH United has been official charity partner of the CECAFA Cup, and spread the message about the importance of hand-washing with soap widely.

Busia, Uganda

n Busia, the border town between Uganda and Kenya, WASH United collaborates with YES (Youth Environmental Services) on carrying out public information campaigns, i.e. on Boda-Bodas (urban bicycle taxis), Sanitation Week, Community Clean-up activities and WASH in School programmes. In 2013, the YES official football team began wearing WASH United jerseys to demonstrate their commitment to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Lira, Uganda

Since early 2010, WASH United has partnered closely with Divine Water on promoting WASH messaging through football by working with local governments and schools in rural districts.


WASH United was a major partner on The Radio Lesotho Roadshow in Quthing District, an event that combined entertainment and WASH education and was led by local former football star and WASH United Champion Kabelo Mosothoane. Broadcast live on Radio Lesotho, WASH messages reached more than 180,000 people.

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The WASH United Club: United for WASH

Our impact

  • 280 million people reached through campaigns
    and media work
  • 100.000 children trained in good WASH behaviour
  • 400 WASH trainings held