Show me your hands

Hygiene promoters encourage people in markets to clean their hands

Helene Sandbu Ryeng
A woman using a handwashing station in Juba
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng
15 July 2020

If you haven't been to some of the busy markets in South Sudan's capital Juba, imagine you are at Central Station in New York during rush hour- only that you are outside. The place is swarming with people exploring the commodities placed in the many stalls that form the roads and avenues of the market.

As a buyer, you want to take a closer look at the fruits and vegetables before you give away your money, ensuring the quality and ripeness is right. The same fruits and vegetables you are scrutinizing has been touched by numerous hands on the same mission. Therefore UNICEF is trying to ensure the hands are clean.

A man standing in front of a handwashing station taking notes
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng
Hygiene promotor Osman Mohamed is standing in front of one of recently established handwashing stations in the Konyo Konyo market in the capital Juba.

Next to every handwashing station UNICEF and partners have put up in markets and other frequently visited areas in Juba is a hygiene promoter, encouraging people to wash their hands before they enter. It is not as easy as it might sound.

"Some refuse to wash their hands. It is not something they are used to. I almost got in a fight the other day because people didn't like my messages about handwashing," Osman Mohamed says. He is a hygiene promoter in the busy Konyo Konyo market in Juba. 

In addition to spreading information about COVID-19 and encourgaing handwashing, he is also keeping tabs of how many people are using the handwashing station. "Over 100 people use this handwashing station every day, as there are several of them in the market. I hope people will continue to use them."

A woman washing her hands at a handwashing station
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng

In total, UNICEF and partners have put up 50 handwashing stations across the capital Juba. Every station has a water tank containing 500 litres of water and soap. In addition, information about the Coronavirus disease is placed nearby as part of the awareness raising activities.

A man standing in front of a handwashing station
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng
Hygiene promoter Albe Michael is washing his hands at the newly established handwashing station at the police station in Nyakroun in the capital Juba.

At the police station in Nyakroun, Albe Michael is promoting good hand hygiene. "Sometimes people refuse to wash their hands. They are not used to this." "We are at high risk here with so many people coming and going every day." 

A police officer is washing his hands
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng
Colonel Peter Deng is washing his hands in the recently established handwashing station in the Nyakroun Police Station in the capital Juba.

Colonel Peter Deng is happy about the handwashing station and says it is often more than just the hands that needs cleaning, as people are brought here after a brawl.

"This is a great initiative for fighting COVID, but also other diseases. Here, people are often coming dirty and bloody after a fight. With this handwashing station they can clean themselves up and the ones handling them can wash their hands."

"We have many people in and out here every day, so this is very helpful and you can understand we are at risk with so many people in and out." All police stations should have this handwashing station."

A woman washing her hands at a handwashing station
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng
Joyce Jolo is washing her hands using one of recently established handwashing stations in the Konyo Konyo market in the capital Juba.

Joyce Jolo is also satisfied with the newly established handwashing station in the Konyo Konyo market.

"We didn't have a handwashing station here before, so this is a good addition, helps us keeping our hands clean before shopping food." "I have always washed hands, even before coronavirus, and I will keep doing that."

UNICEF has partnered with the World Bank for the COVID-19 response in South Sudan. UNICEF would like to thank the government of Japan  for the generous contributions to the water, sanitation and hygiene response to COVID-19, including infection prevention and control measures.