Bhutan, 22 October 2018 – New innovative ideas on how to save lives in South Asia by encouraging hand washing with soap were celebrated on Monday. The cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) awarded prizes for the best ideas submitted to the regional WASH Innovation Challenge organized by BRAC and UNICEF.
Over 780 teams from all over South Asia have submitted new ideas on how best to get everyone to wash their hands with soap. The top 12 teams presented their ideas to Sachin Tendulkar and UNICEF’s Regional Director, Jean Gough and Asif Saleh, Senior Director at BRAC in Bhutan. The three winning teams that each won US$5000 for their ideas came from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Sachin Tendulkar also met with students and parents in Zilukha Middle Secondary School in Thimphu and played cricket with young cricket players from Bhutan’s national team.
“I am delighted to have met with the amazing children and youth in Bhutan. Their positive energy to follow their dreams is so inspiring. As UNICEF goodwill ambassador, I have always supported the simple yet most effective practice of handwashing. And on this trip, learning about new and innovative ideas to support handwashing with soap in South Asia was meaningful. The many children I met and played cricket with have promised me that they will become ambassadors for handwashing and also spread this important message to their families and friends”, said Sachin Tendulkar.
The three innovation ideas that won were: a colorful bangle that jingles and reminds a mother to wash her hands before cooking and feeding her child and after using the toilet; a multi-purpose water bottle with the full functionality of a hand washing station; and a monitoring system that tracks how often students wash hands.
Hand washing with soap is an excellent way for families to protect their children from diseases that are potentially life-threatening. Research has shown that with proper hand washing, the risk of diarrhea can be reduced by 42-47 per cent, and the risk of acute respiratory infection in children aged under 5 years can be reduced by half. A study has also found that newborn deaths were significantly lower among children of mothers who reported washing their hands when having used the bathroom and before preparing food.
“Innovation in this part of the world is not necessarily about just creating a product. It is often coming up with simple solutions that can be scaled up. We hope these innovative solutions from young social entrepreneurs will provide a boost towards our efforts to improve people's well-being through better hygiene”, said Asif Saleh, Senior Director at BRAC.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.