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This project consists of two phases, a laboratory and a field phase. The laboratory phase is centred around creating proof of concept and basically consists of  three components:

  1. Testing the Supertowel™ at its present stage of development
  2. Design workshop and product development phase
  3. Testing new versions of Supertowel™ and deciding on which version will be used in the field phase

The field phase will be engaged only if we are successful in proving in the laboratory that the Supertowel™ is as efficient as a handwashing tool as water and soap. The field trial will focus on user acceptance and behaviour change communication and will be performed in a collaboration between Real Relief, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and the Danish Refugee Council. The field evaluation is scheduled to take place in Markazi refugee camp in Djibouti.

Children from a kindergarten in Tamil Nadu learning how to wash hands with Magic Towel. Credit: Supertowel

Status

We have conducted the first laboratory test at a collaborating laboratory in Mumbai, India, using a protocol developed in cooperation with experts from LSHTM, Belen Torondel and Sian White.

The test involved 16 volunteers, that were each asked to wash their hands with Supertowel™ and also with water and soap. The hand washing procedure followed the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The test was performed on the 1st and 2nd of December 2017. The overall conclusion is that Supertowel™ is not as efficient as water and soap in removing bacteria and providing clean hands. However, 38% of the volunteers actually managed to get cleaner hands when using Supertowel™ as compared to hand washing with water and soap. On average the volunteers used 1 litre of water when washing with soap and merely 36 ml when washing with Supertowel™. We find the result encouraging.

The next steps are a design workshop in cooperation with the Royal College of Art, and subsequently a follow up test in the laboratory, where a number of new prototypes will be tested against water and soap using a similar or slightly more comprehensive protocol.

Stay tuned for more news on Supertowel™

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