Sian White

Research Fellow
WASH and behaviour change


Keppel Street
United Kingdom


I have been designing, delivering and evaluating public health behaviour change programs throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle east and the Pacific for more than a decade. For the last 5 years of this I have been researching behaviour change related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). I am particularly interested in programme design, qualitative and formative reserach methods, innovation, equity and inclusivity (with a focus on disability) and humanitarian crises.

Prior to working for LSHTM I spent five years doing community development work in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. Following that I worked for four years in Papua New Guinea (PNG) firstly as a TB communication specialist and then as the National TB Program Manager for World Vision who were scaling up TB care throughout the country as part of a Global Fund Grant. I have a BA in Media, Society and Culture and a Masters in Public Health in Developing Countries. I am currently undertaking my PhD at LSHTM on hygiene behaviour change during humanitarian crises.


Department of Disease Control
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases


Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre


I currently co-ordinate the Designing Disease Control Programs Module. I teach on Applied Public Health in Developing Countries, Global Disability and Health, Tropical and Environmental Health and the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. I teach external courses at Imperial College and John Hopkins University. I also supervise summer project students each year and am an advisor to three other PhD students working on WASH and behaviour change.  


At LSHTM my focus has been on designing and evaluating water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition behaviour change programs in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Some of my recent work has included:

  • A nutritional behaviour change trial in Indonesia
  • A hand washing behaviour change trial in Nigeria
  • A trial to improve WASH access for people with disability in Malawi
  • An assessment of the contamination of infant formula bottles in Indonesia.
  • Understanding sub-optimal hygiene practices related to trachoma in Ethiopia 
  • Understanding water use and purchasing preferences in Nigeria
  • Developing a behaviour change practitioners guide for WaterAid
  • An ethnographic study of hygiene and manners in Nepal
  • Testing the efficacy and acceptability of the Supertowel - an alternative handwahsing product for humanitarian crises.
  • The creation of a handwashing facility for use in humanitarian crises.
  • Understanding programme design during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Liberia
  • Exploratory qualitative reserach into incontinence in Pakistan.

My current work, which forms part of my PhD, relates to improving hygiene behaviour change programming in humanitarian emergencies and will focus on case studies in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Democratic republic of Congo. The applied part of this work has led to the development of Wash'Em - a proces for designing rapid, evidence based and context-specific hygiene programmes. Wash'Em includes five rapid assessment tools, a decision-making software package and learning tools. To date it has been used in more than 20 humanitarian settings by 25 different NGOs.

Research Area
Complex interventions
Behaviour change
Impact evaluation
Mixed methods
Qualitative methods
Operational research
Policy analysis
Disease and Health Conditions
Diarrhoeal diseases
Congo, Dem. Rep.
Papua New Guinea
Arab World
East Asia & Pacific (developing only)
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Selecting behaviour change priorities for trachoma 'F' and 'E' interventions: A formative research study in Oromia, Ethiopia.
Greenland K; White S; Sommers K; Biran A; Burton MJ; Sarah V; Alemayehu W
PLoS neglected tropical diseases
Efficacy of the SuperTowel®: An Alternative Hand-washing Product for Humanitarian Emergencies.
Torondel B; Khan R; Holm Larsen T; White S
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
A qualitative assessment of disability friendly water and sanitation facilities in primary schools, Rumphi, Malawi
Zaunda H; H. Holm R; Itimu-Phiri A; Malota M; White S
Development Southern Africa
Exploring the links between water, sanitation and hygiene and disability; Results from a case-control study in Guatemala.
Kuper H; Mactaggart I; White S; Dionicio C; Cañas R; Naber J; Polack S; Biran A
PloS one
A Cluster-Randomized Trial to Evaluate the Impact of an Inclusive, Community-Led Total Sanitation Intervention on Sanitation Access for People with Disabilities in Malawi.
Biran A; Danquah L; Chunga J; Schmidt W-P; Holm R; Itimu-Phiri A; Singini W; Jones H; Kuper H; White S
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene
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