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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Hygiene promotion standard 2: Identification and use of hygiene items

The disaster-affected population has access to and is involved in identifying and promoting the use of hygiene items to ensure personal hygiene, health, dignity and well-being.
Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Guidance notes
  1. Basic hygiene items: A basic minimum hygiene items pack consists of water containers (buckets), bathing and laundry soaps, and menstrual hygiene materials.
  2. Coordination: Discuss with the shelter cluster and the affected population
    whether additional non-food items, such as blankets, which are not included in the basic hygiene items are required (see Non-food items standard 1).
  3. Timeliness of hygiene items distribution: In order to ensure a timely distribution of hygiene items, it may be necessary to distribute some key generic items (soap, jerrycans, etc.) without the agreement of the affected population and come to an agreement concerning future distributions following consultation.
  4. Priority needs: People may choose to sell the items provided if their priority needs are not appropriately met and so people’s livelihoods need to be considered when planning distributions.
  5. Appropriateness: Care should be taken to avoid specifying products that
    would not be used due to lack of familiarity or that could be misused (e.g.
    items that might be mistaken for food). Where culturally appropriate or
    preferred, washing powder can be specified instead of laundry soap.
  6. Replacement: Consideration should be given for consumables to be
    replaced where necessary.
  7. Special needs: Some people with specific needs (e.g. incontinence or
    severe diarrhoea) may require increased quantities of personal hygiene items such as soap. Persons with disabilities or those who are confined to bed may need additional items, such as bed pans. Some items may require adaptation for sanitary use (such as a stool with a hole or commode chair).
  8. Menstrual hygiene: Provision must be made for discreet laundering or disposal of menstrual hygiene materials.         
  10. Additional items: Existing social and cultural practices may require access to additional personal hygiene items. Subject to availability, such items (per person per month) could include: 
- 75ml/100g toothpaste
- one toothbrush
- 250ml shampoo
- 250ml lotion for infants and children up to 2 years of age
- one disposable razor
- underwear for women and girls of menstrual age
- one hairbrush and/or comb
- nail clippers
- nappies (diapers) and potties (dependent on household need).