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Through a Hand Washing Campaign, a Ugandan mother learns how to reduce illnesses affecting her children

By Proscovia Nakibuuka

When Sarah Nabwami first heard about the hand washing campaign at a community gathering, she had little interest in it. Little did she know that this hygienic practice would drastically improve her family’s health status.

Sarah, a mother of four who lives in Samuka village located in Mukono district, started appreciating the benefits of proper hygiene and sanitation when a Hand Washing Ambassador (HWA) visited her home. She was educated about the benefits of having a pit latrine, a hand washing facility at the latrine, and the benefits of washing hands every time after visiting the latrine.

“Before the Hand Washing Ambassador talked to us about the campaign and what it entails, our hygiene practices were not as good as they are now,” mentions Sarah. Previously, her homestead had a latrine without a cover stand, and a small jerry can was used by the family to wash hands after using the latrine, but without the use of soap.

Sarah notes that using the jerry can was unhygienic since whoever used it would have to touch it, which meant leaving germs on the can since no soap was used.

After sensitization from the Hand Washing Ambassadors, Sarah’s family were taught how to make latrine covers to avoid flies, how to make a locally made hand washing facility known as a tippy tap, and how to construct a rack for drying plates and utensils.

“I now know that it is important to wash our hands with soap after using the toilet, before eating food, before feeding the baby, and after cleaning the babies’ bottoms. I also encourage my children to wash their hands using the tippy tap after playing. They like using it because it is user-friendly,” Sarah recounts with a smile.

Hand-washing campaigns, supported by UNICEF Uganda and SARAYA, emphasize that washing one’s hands with soap after using the toilet or cleaning a child and before handling food can reduce hygiene and sanitation-related illnesses like diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera. Also, that washing hands with water alone, a more common practice, is significantly less effective than washing hands with soap.

“Ever since we implemented what we were taught by the Hand Washing Ambassador, the health of my children has improved, they are no longer affected by diarrhoea which was so common. Our home is clean and the family is healthy,” Sarah affirms.

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