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Tippy Tap: Improving the lives of children in rural South Africa

UNICEF South Africa/2016/Okumu
© UNICEF South Africa/2016/Okumu
Dr. Kondwani Ng’oma, UNICEF South Africa Health Specialist, demonstrates how to use a tippy tap.

6 October 2016 - A ‘tippy tap’ may at first sound like a toy, but this innovative device is used by rural communities to address issues of health care and good hygiene practices in various parts of South Africa.

It was created by the Community Media Trust (CMT), an organization supported by UNICEF and the Department of Health among others, on a number of health-based projects including handwashing and hygiene awareness-raising. This is part of a wider objective of UNICEF and its partners to improve maternal and child health care in South Africa.

A tippy tap is made from a plastic bottle, a straw along with water and soap. A small hole is created in the middle of a two-liter plastic bottle, a straw is inserted and it is then filled with soapy water. The materials may sound simple, but the tap relies on the laws of physics where pressure within the bottle releases the water creating a drip mechanism which can be used to wash dirty hands.

Since 2014, CMT has reached 15 000 community health workers in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. The aim is to reduce preventable diseases of children under five by empowering communities with basic tools to tackle their day-to-day health challenges such as poor hygiene practices and insufficient hygiene services.

On a recent field visit to the Eastern Cape, a team from UNICEF had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Zanenkosi Mpofu of the CMT who helps train community health care workers outside King Williams Town. “Most of the communities where the health care workers are from do not have access to clean running water and we do this training for them so they take the information back to the communities”, he explained.

The UNICEF team also attended a CMT training session on how to make a tippy tap. Participants were shown that the tippy tap is a cost effective tool which can be used to prevent water-borne diseases such as diarrhea.

The tippy taps, with the support of UNICEF and the CMT, help move South Africa towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 (good health and well-being) and Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation) whilst improving the lives of infants and young children. 





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