1.2  Definitions

1.2.1  Hygiene and sanitation

  • What do hygiene and sanitation mean to you from your brief reading of the historical perspectives?

  • Hygiene is related to personal cleanliness, such as personal hygiene (body, clothing). Sanitation refers to waste management, particularly management of human waste.

Hygiene generally refers to the set of practices associated with the preservation of health and healthy living. The focus is mainly on personal hygiene that looks at cleanliness of the hair, body, hands, fingers, feet and clothing, and menstrual hygiene.

Improvements in personal knowledge, skill and practice that modify an individual’s behaviour towards healthy practice are the focus of hygiene promotion. Safe hygiene practice includes a broad range of healthy behaviours, such as handwashing before eating and after cleaning a child’s bottom, and safe faeces disposal. When you carry out hygiene education and promotion the aim is to transfer knowledge and understanding of hygiene and associated health risks in order to help people change their behaviour to use better hygiene practices.

Sanitation means the prevention of human contact with wastes, for hygienic purposes. It also means promoting health through the prevention of human contact with the hazards associated with the lack of healthy food, clean water and healthful housing, the control of vectors (living organisms that transmit diseases), and a clean environment. It focuses on management of waste produced by human activities.

There are different types of sanitation relating to particular situations, such as:

  • Basic sanitation: refers to the management of human faeces at the household level. It means access to a toilet or latrine.
  • Onsite sanitation: the collection and treatment of waste at the place where it is deposited.
  • Food sanitation: refers to the hygienic measures for ensuring food safety. Food hygiene is similar to food sanitation.
  • Housing sanitation: refers to safeguarding the home environment (the dwelling and its immediate environment).
  • Environmental sanitation: the control of environmental factors that form links in disease transmission. This category includes solid waste management, water and wastewater treatment, industrial waste treatment and noise and pollution control.
  • Ecological sanitation: the concept of recycling the nutrients from human and animal wastes to the environment.

1.1.3  Hygiene and environmental health development in Ethiopia

1.2.2  Environmental health