A 20-litre bucket and 12 bars of soap

WASH-voucher project is protecting children and families from COVID-19

By Robert Lominsuk and Judy Juru Michael
People picking up supplies
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Lominsuk
15 December 2020

“Soap is very expensive in the market and we usually don’t have it for use at home,” states mother of four, Nyanchiec Wieu Wol.

In the fight against the coronavirus, regular handwashing with soap has been identified as an important behavior that everyone should practice. In Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, UNICEF has implemented a water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) voucher project for households with more than 10 people and those headed by children, women and the elderly.

To date, 494 families collected a 20-litre bucket with a tap and 12 bars of soap using their vouchers in local stores owned by retailers identified and contracted by UNICEF. The soap is expected to last three months and the products are all locally sourced. The families are identified through SCOPE, a computer-based system run by the World Food Programme. SCOPE is a register of the most vulnerable families. Once registered, each household receives a smart card where the WASH voucher is loaded. Beneficiaries take their card to the local market, redeem the voucher and receive their bucket and soap.

Women and children line up in front of a table under a tent staffed by 2 people wearing UNICEF-labelled clothing.
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Lominsuk
Pregnant women were first in line to receive hand hygiene items.
A woman in a black and white striped dress carries a blue bucket of supplies on her head.
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Juru
Nyanchiec arriving home after receiving a bucket and soap.

“I’m so happy and thank UNICEF for giving me a bucket and 12 bars of soap. UNICEF has made it easy for me and my children,” says Nyanchiec who makes a living by selling grass in Koum village. She will encourage her family and neighbors to use the items to protect themselves from diseases.

“I want all the families in this village to use the soap for the right purpose. They should break it into small pieces and use it for handwashing and for other important things like bathing and washing their clothes. This way it will stay for a long time,” she advises.

A woman and a child wash there hands at an outdoor handwashing station.
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Juru
Amou and her 12-year-old son, Anguie, handwashing at home.
A woman and a child wash their hands at an outdoor handwashing station.
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Lominsuk
Yanchiec shows her four-year-old, Akec, how to properly wash his hands.
Expanding access to reach more households

Access to clean water and soap is a universal necessity, but for millions of people these basic commodities remain out of reach.  By using SCOPE, UNICEF can efficiently identify the most vulnerable households and reach them in a timely and efficient manner with life-saving products.

With this tool, UNICEF has eliminated the lengthy and costly offshore procurement used in the past. UNICEF hopes to scale up this innovation in 2021 and reach 9,400 families in Aweil, Bor and Bentiu.

“In the radio, they say washing hands with soap is one of the ways to prevent [coronavirus],” says Amou Majok Diany. The mother of two boys makes a living by cultivating land and selling firewood while her husband works as a fisherman. To her, soap is essential.

“I’m very happy with the bucket and the 12 bars of soap that UNICEF has given to us because these are very important items,” narrates Amou. “I will ensure everyone in the family, including the children, washes their hands all the time with water and soap to avoid catching diseases, including COVID-19, which we hear about all the time.”

UNICEF is rolling-out a WASH-voucher programme in South Sudan, with financial support from the Government of Japan.