Building low-cost or no cost hand washing stations can help people take the step from simply understanding the importance of hand washing to actually practising hand washing with soap. The Tippy Tap is widely promoted and used for hand washing around the world. It’s simple, cheap, and allows hand washing with only a little water. It is also easily adaptable to suit local situations and preferences.
Other types of hand washing stations are being developed in a number of countries. The design stage is very important.
- Designing a hand washing station must take people’s preferences and practices into account.
- Many tests may be necessary before the best design is found.
- A universal design for a hand washing station may not be possible.
You will need paper and pencils or pens
Ask the children to draw round their hands, one hand with the palm down and one hand with the palm facing up. Once they have an outline, they should remove their hands from the paper and draw on fingernails and any lines and creases they see on their hands.
- Explain how sickness spreads through unseen germs on our hands.
- Ask the children to look closely at their hands.
- Ask them ‘where might the germs be hiding?’
- Ask them to imagine they have put their hands in some soil. Ask them ‘where does the soil stick?’ The answer will be under the fingernails and in the creases of the hands. You could demonstrate this on your own hands with soil, and follow it by washing your own hands with soap so the children can see how it should be done.
On the pictures of their hands, the children should draw where the germs might be hiding. It doesn’t matter how they choose to draw the germs.
Use this activity to help children think about when to wash their hands. Help them understand that their hands need washing when they look dirty and sometimes when they look clean but may have germs on them. Emphasise the importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap to get the germs out of the creases and from under the fingernails.
Ideas for using this article
- Use it like a poster that you can refer to and pass around a group during discussion or training.
- Use the ‘Five fingers – count to five’ when training others.
- Develop the children’s activity. Children can also learn the ‘Five fingers – count to five’.
Compiled and edited by Helen Gaw, with contributions from Zoe Burden, Barbara Almond and Paul Dean. Children’s activity adapted from a WaterAid lesson plan, with thanks for permission. Recommendations on designing hand washing stations taken from a study in Vietnam by the Water and Sanitation Program.
To read this article as a pdf click here (PDF 394 KB).