Safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are the essential components to lead a healthy life. Correct, consistent, and continuous practices of WASH behavior, particularly hand hygiene, help prevent infections and spread of diseases. With the lack of appropriate sensitization, awareness and access to an improved water source, and availability of soap and handwashing stations, vulnerable rural communities are facing health-related, social challenges that adversely impact household economy.
WASH sensitization and awareness-building are key bring a change. According to JMP 2020 data, many people wash their hands with water or with water and soil/ash, but not on a regular basis. This leads to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid. Even if some are using soap for handwashing, the absence of proper handwashing stations increases the risk of spread of infections, as the same water source is often used for different purposes. Lack of resources and knowledge also act as barriers for the poor in not having a dedicated handwashing station.
Understanding this situation, S M Sehgal Foundation designed a handwashing station that is simple, low cost, user friendly, easy to fabricate with bamboo that is highly renewable and locally available resource, and has zero environmental footprint since the model reuses plastic waste.
The designed model offers ease and convenience of handwashing in affordable DIY format, thus has a huge potential to bring about behavior change in handwashing at appropriate times and help stop the spread of diseases. It also adds to the dignity of the user household. The low-cost handwashing station is shown below:
The primary objective behind prototype development is to build a low-cost, environment-friendly handwashing station that reduces the risk of spread of waterborne diseases among the rural population, who share the water source, particularly among highly vulnerable young children, and promote dignity and productivity by sustaining handwashing behavior at critical times. The major problem as defined in handwashing is that the handwashing stations available in the market or in practice are cost intensive and not affordable for vulnerable rural communities.
Our innovation of handwashing station with soap is not only easy to build and cost effective but also provides an opportunity of recycling the plastic scrap with zero environmental footprint. The model costs maximum of INR 260. The fabrication needs low level of skills and resources locally available. Four key components along with their costs are:
Convenience of handwashing with soap helps in sustaining the hand hygiene behavior particularly before handling food; and after defecation or handling feces to reduce the risk of transmission of diseases.