Getting clean, staying safe - handwashing stations in Kayin State

COVID-19 response

Ye Min Aung
UNICEF Myanmar/2020/Saw Aung Myo Myint
22 April 2020

Curious Mg Htein Lin, 11, popped out of his mother’s small recycling shop beside the Hlaing Bwe bus terminal in Kayin State to observe a new handwashing station being installed by the Department of Rural Development, supported by UNICEF. When Mg Htein Lin asked to be the first person to use the facility, the workers asked for his reason.

“Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent Coronavirus infection. Our shop is close to the bus stop and we collect recycling items from all over the place so perhaps we are more at risk of getting infected,“ the young lad replied.

UNICEF Myanmar/2020/Saw Aung Myo Myint
The Hlaing Bwe Market handwashing station offers protection for shoppers and vendors .

“I’m really glad we have this handwashing facility nearby and will use it often, following the handwashing steps shown on the stickers. I’m also going to tell everyone who comes into our shop to wash their hand properly, so we can dam COVID-19 ,” explained the avid cleanliness advocate.

Kayin State is one of Myanmar’s highest risk areas for Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection as it hosts the busy trade hub at the Myawaddy-Mae Sot borderpoint crossing between Kayin State and western Thailand. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, thousands of Myanmar migrants began returning from Thailand through this checkpoint.

UNICEF Myanmar/2020/Ye Min Aung
Visitors and staff at the township health office, Hpa-An in Kayin State appreciate the new handwashing facilities.

The Myanmar Government provides social services to returnees, but there is a huge gap to cover the entire state population. UNICEF in Kayin State is working with the Myanmar Government departments of Rural Development, Health and Education to provide humanitarian services to the most vulnerable people.

So far, UNICEF, with the generous support from the Government of Japan, has installed 30 handwashing stations which can provide access to handwashing facilities to about 9,000 people that may have to be isolated in quarantine centres. UNICEF also distributed IEC materials such as posters and stickers with life saving information at critical areas such as quarantine centres, hospitals, public markets, bus terminals and government offices in Hpa-An and Hlaing Bwe Townships.