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 improves 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 facilitated 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 – increased 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 also saved 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 ultimately allowed humanitarian actors to reach more
As their handwashing project comes to an end, Oxfam share the journey they have travelled in creating and testing a prototype for a handwashing station.View
I arrived at AidEx in Brussels to see the brand new, and final, prototype of the handwashing kit, fresh from the factory. It had been a year since I field tested the first prototype at a refugee camp in Tanzania. Another two trips followed, including Uganda, with iterated designs. (Watch this video to see the handwashing kit at AidEx)View
It is very dry here at the moment and very dusty. There are little or no hand washing facilities and collecting clean water can be up to a 30-minute walk under the burning sun with little shade. It’s easy to see why most of the Congolese refugees in this camp don’t or can’t wash their hands.View
Article in The Telegraph: It’s something that most of us take for granted but for people living in refugee camps access to handwashing facilities can be a life saver. Aid agency Oxfam is trialling the use of a new handwashing stand to be used in humanitarian emergencies where sanitation is often poor and diseases such as cholera and acute diarrhoea can spread like wildfire.View
I arrived in the Nduta refugee camp in March 2018 only to find that it was the peak of the rainy season. How quickly a river can form around your feet! But the good news was that this would prove to be an excellent testing ground for the new prototype as previous tests had raised questions about whether the stands would be stable in the rain and the wind.View
Following the evolution of the Handy Wash Tap (an innovative water saving/hygienic tap – see video), a new prototype for a freestanding handwashing station has been produced and field-tested in collaboration with Oxfam, SPARK Product Creation and Dunster House Ltd – and with funding from the HIF.View
Developing the promotion and practice hand-washing kit (PPHWK) kicked off with an inception meeting in Oxfam house, Oxford on 13 Jan 2017. It brought together all stakeholders and experts in design, behaviour-change hand-washing and logistics and WASH to re-establish project objectives, ways of working and the work plan.View
Learn more about this WASH project, and many others, in our Humanitarian WASH Innovation Catalogue.
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