Darfur: Handwashing for all continues to Save Lives

Since Global HandWashing Day was commemorated, many communities in East Darfur State have used the day to raise awareness of hand washing with soap by building tippy taps to demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands.

Khamisa Mohamed
tippy tap
Khamisa Mohamed
18 October 2020

The Global Handwashing Partnership initiated the first Global Handwashing Day on October 15, 2008, mobilizing 120 million children in 73 countries to wash their hands with soap and water. The main focus of the day is to spread the word about hand washing and the value of clean hands as an effective way to prevent diseases around the world.

East Darfur State joins the rest of the world to mark the Global Handwashing Day — a day dedicated to promoting awareness and understanding of the importance of hand washing with soap. The theme for this year’s Global Handwashing Day is “Hand Hygiene for All” and focuses on a global initiative to encourage everyone to improve their hand hygiene. This year’s theme illustrates that hand washing is more important now than ever as countries around the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the day was first commemorated, many communities in East Darfur State have used the day to raise awareness of hand washing with soap by building tippy taps to demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands. The government, civil society organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations have been very instrumental in fostering and supporting the move which they wish to make it part and parcel of the culture.

East Darfur is bent on curbing the propagation of the cholera and corona virus, which is a very fast killer. Cases of cholera and corona virus was identified in some part of the state, and since then the Ministry of Health and UNICEF has embarked on a serious campaign to stop the spread. Amongst one of the preventive measures, is the washing of hands which is said to be the first and foremost aspect in containing the epidemic. The population has been advised to wash hands with soap after using the toilet, before cooking, eating or feeding others as one of the methods to stop the dissemination of the cholera disease.

UNICEF has been promoting safe hygiene practices to household and schools to improve hygiene practices through a number of programmes, including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools, WASH in rural areas, Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and hygiene promotion and support hand washing campaigns.

The WASH sector marked the 2020 Global Hand Washing Day, the 12th edition in style using an innovative way to promote awareness of proper hand washing because our hands are the parts of our body that most regularly come into contact with other people and substances and surfaces that can carry harmful bacteria we may not realize it’s happening, but those hands very often end up coming in contact with our mouth or nose or eyes all direct conduits for transferring bacteria effectively and efficiently into our operating system.

tippy tap usage
Khamisa Mohamed
Demonstrating how the tippy tap works, Ed Dain, East Darfur.

Activities include lectures and hygiene sessions on proper handwashing in health facilities with demonstration of hand washing with soap and water, 1000 brochures and 1000 posters distributed  conveying hand washing messages, a strong involvement of communication  through social and religious organizations in promoting good behavior and good practice of individual and collective hygiene, drama  skits,  communities have been reached  through radio talk show to amplify behavior change messaging and to generate wider public debate on the urgent needs of hand washing with soap and water , mobile campaign, in addition 200 cartons of Bars of soap was donated by UNICEF  and distributed to each health facility following the hand-washing demonstration,  radio spots and radio jingles  on hygiene awareness aired, 5,000 households have been reached with key hygiene messages on washing hand with soap and water,  200 trained hygiene educators volunteers have been sent into communities to spread the word of hand washing with soap at all times.

This day is an opportunity to inform and make people conscious that washing their hands regularly is a powerful way to fight diseases and epidemics. The cholera, diarrhea, typhoid and corona virus will not enter households where the hands are washed and kept clean.  Hand washing is an affordable and effective solution to poor health outcomes and has the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and communities and reduce in equities.

On this day, we further vulnerable communities in the households how to wash their hands and explain to them how dirty hands can continue the spread of corona, diarrhea, and cholera. Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent these diseases. This simple behavior can save lives, cutting diarrhea by almost half and acute respiratory infections by nearly a quarter.


UNICEF is grateful to USAID-OFDA for its continued support