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Tippy Taps setting a trend in Zimbabwe’s rural schools by promoting innovation through simplicity.

© Elizabeth Mupfumira/UNICEF 2014
Outside every classroom is a Tippy Tap to ensure that every pupil washes their hands after using the toilet

 By Elizabeth B. Mupfumira

Standing near the door of every classroom, a water bottle fitted with a straw hangs from two poles at Cheninga Primary School in Gutu District of Masvingo Province in Zimbabwe. “We use this to wash our hands. When we leave the toilet, it always reminds us to wash our hands,” said little Vincent Mudyiwa, aged 6 – a pupil at the School.  

Upon arrival at the School, the first thing that catches the eye are the colourful Tippy Taps outside each of the nine classrooms. The Tippy Tap, an innovation initiated at Cheninga Primary School by the schools’ “Taziva” Health Club – is made from a plastic bottle that is hung on a rope and releases water when tipped. The innovation was introduced at the school to help fight against preventable water borne diseases through regular hand washing. Every time a pupil uses the toilet they are encouraged to wash their hands using the innovative tap before returning to class.

Taziva Health Club recently won first prize in the district’s School Health Club competition for being agents of change through effectively educating their peers and the surrounding community on the importance of sanitation and hygiene practices.  And it is clear by the presence of the Tippy Taps, clean toilets and pristine school surroundings that Cheninga takes sanitation and hygiene very seriously.

“It is important that we teach our students about sanitation and hygiene at school, because they will take the same lessons back home and into the community,” says Mr. Nyadenga the headmaster at Cheninga Primary School.

School Health Clubs are one of the tools being used as part of the rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program to improve water availability; promote zero tolerance to open defecation and promote hygiene standards.

Ms. Ushe the health club teacher at the school is passionate about her responsibility to her pupils and the surrounding community. Ushe was recently trained in Sanitation Focused Participatory Health and Hygiene Education (SAFPHHE) to promote child, gender and disabled-friendly sanitation facilities; promote hand washing facilities – such as the Tippy Tap; and to enhance creative and innovative ways for students to be change agents for the community.

“We have a lot of activities that promote sanitation and health in the community. We put on plays, sing songs and recite poems to the pupils and surrounding community in order to deliver our message and it is very effective,” she says.

In rural Zimbabwe, the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene services has had an effect on access to all social services for the most vulnerable members of the community. Lack of adequate WASH facilities has resulted in a large disease burden, especially among girls and women who must travel long distances to collect water.

The US$52 million rural WASH programme which is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) aims to significantly reduce the number of people without access to a safe water supply and adequate sanitation in the most vulnerable provinces in Zimbabwe.

As UNICEF commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child under the theme “Innovate for Equity” – the students of Cheninga Primary School health club have found a way to advance the rights of children in their community. The Tippy Taps are setting a trend in Zimbabwe’s rural schools by promoting innovation through simplicity.



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