Project blog




Reuters: Oxfam's solution to hand hygiene in refugee camps

Handy Wash Tap Innovation Case Study

Promotion and Practice Handwashing Kit

Organisation: Oxfam GB

Partners: Dunster House Ltd.

Location: Nduta Camp Tanzania

Type of grant: WASH

Status: Ongoing

  • First use for Burundian mother Bigeme Nadia, aged 23 with 1 year old son Frigasi. Credit: Joel Trotter/Oxfam

  • Prototype in use at a school within the camp, children aged 9 and 14. Credit: Joel Trotter/Oxfam

  • First use of Prototype in a small village within the camp. Credit: Joel Trotter/Oxfam

  • Joel assembling the prototypes in Nduta camp. Credit: Joel Trotter/Oxfam

  • Early designs of the Handwashing Station

  • Early designs of the Handwashing Station

  • Oxfam handwashing kit, photo: Matt White

  • Justin Hartree from Oxfam explains the features of the new prototype at AidEx, photo: Joel Trotter


Handwashing in emergencies saves lives by preventing the spread of WASH-related diseases: handwashing with soap has a greater impact on reducing deaths from diarrhoeal disease than any other single intervention.  Yet there is no standardised kit for handwashing in humanitarian contexts, when reduced resources make it more difficult for people to manage their hygiene.

Too often in emergency settings, the lack of quickly assembled, readily available, self-contained kits for communal handwashing facilities means these stations are not ready to install alongside latrines – a key failure to supply a safe, healthy sanitation and hygiene response for people in crisis.


Designed and developed by Beech Grove Academy students in partnership with Oxfam, the innovative Promotion and Practice Handwashing Kit has an ‘A-frame’ superstructure capable of holding different locally-available water containers combined with soap, handwashing reminders, and the ‘HandyWash’ water dispenser – which is robust, low-cost, light, conserves water, and has a one-touch action. The attractive design is height-adjustable for children and wheelchair users and easy to use and maintain, providing dignified handwashing facilities for people in crisis.

This kit will improve humanitarian practice by allowing for quick and easy install of self-contained handwashing stations alongside latrines in displacement camps, avoiding the generally late provision of poor quality facilities which discourages vital handwashing. Existing stations require technical knowledge and several hours to install, and procuring local components can take up to a year. Many of these stations are not easily used or dignified – they are often messy, clumsy, and without drainage.


The kit will facilitate better access to handwashing facilities for women, men, and children living in displacement camps – including disabled persons and the elderly. The station – easy to use and install – will increase handwashing rates and therefore lower incidence of disease, providing people with health and dignity and satisfying the basic need of effective, readily available water and sanitation facilities in times of crisis. Easier maintenance and management helps conserve scarce water resources and durability makes the station suitable for long-term sustainable use.

The kit will also save cost and time as humanitarian actors and their logisticians currently spend considerable time sourcing and installing components for other handwashing solutions. The time and cost savings on limited resources will ultimately allow humanitarian actors to reach more

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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