UNICEF launches ‘Tippy Tap’ challenge to mobilise young people against surging COVID-19 cases

The challenge encourages and rewards young people to improve and conserve access to water and soap.

23 July 2020

PRETORIA, 23 July 2020 - UNICEF South Africa is mobilising young people to engage directly in the COVID-19 response by making Tippy Taps in areas where there is limited access to running water and soap for handwashing.

The challenge is for young people to construct a ‘Tippy Tap’, a simple handwashing facility that uses very little water and is easy to make using a plastic bottle, string, sticks and soap. For every Tippy Tap built, young people will be able to earn digital rewards which can be redeemed for food and airtime vouchers through UNICEF’s partnership with the award-winning Zlto platform. Zlto will validate and store each Tippy Tap built as a ‘work asset’, which a young person can use as experience when applying for a job.

“There is no time to waste,” said UNICEF Representative, Jama Gulaid. “Handwashing with soap is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 but people need regular access to water and soap, so that handwashing can become a habit,” Gulaid added.

An estimated 2 million households in South Africa do not have a handwashing facility, according to latest government statistics.

Recent UNICEF surveys have shown that:

  • Only 3% rural and 28% of urban key informants reported that everyone has enough water for handwashing, 45% experienced water cuts in the last week
  • Only 3% rural and 18% urban key informants reported that most people have access to functioning handwashing facilities
  • Only 36% of youth said they had washed their hands more than five times the day before

UNICEF is working with World Vision to engage faith and community leaders to focus activities in communities with limited access to water and soap, as well as with the Children’s Radio Foundation to promote the Tippy Tap Challenge among its listeners nationwide.

The challenge is in line with UNICEF’s broader water and sanitation response to COVID-19 that supports the National Department of Health’s ongoing efforts to improve hand hygiene and slow the spread of COVID-19.

UNICEF calls on and extends its support to national, provincial and local authorities, as well as COVID-command centres, to maintain and expand access to communal water supplies so that Tippy Taps can be kept full – and broader access to water and sanitation is expanded and sustained in the longer term.

Media contacts

Sudeshan Reddy
Communication Specialist
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 82 561 3970


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in over 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special efforts on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children everywhere.

Working with a range of partners, UNICEF has had a presence in South Africa since the end of apartheid and continues to work towards bettering the lives of all children in the country.

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