During the first two years of life, children born in low-income countries are at risk for enteric infections due to poor water quality, sanitation conditions, and caregiver handwashing practices (WASH). During this period, children are also at risk for undernutrition.
Beyond the acute morbidity and suffering caused by enteric infections and undernutrition, observational evidence also suggests that repeated infections alone and in combination with undernutrition in the first years of life can have lasting and detrimental effects on longer-term physical growth, cognitive development, and adult human capital.
The WASH Benefits Study provides rigorous evidence on the health and developmental benefits of water quality, sanitation, handwashing, and nutritional interventions during the first years of life. The study includes two, cluster-randomized controlled trials to measure the impact of intervention among newborn infants in rural Bangladesh and Kenya. The studies are large in scope (> 5,000 newborns per country) and will measure primary outcomes after two years of intervention.