HAND WASHING CAMPAIGN AN IMPORTANT TOOL TO CONTROL COVID-19
Hand washing is a regular practice that everyone does every day (or at least they should!), but on October 15 we should put just a little more thought to it, as it is Global Hand Washing Day. Hand washing is critically important in helping to prevent the spread of diseases, including COVID-19. The global pandemic has really shone a light on the importance of hand washing, but of course it is also vital for preventing transmission of other diseases and parasites.
The first Global Hand Washing Day was held in 2008. Since then, the day has been celebrated to emphasise the importance of hand washing. The Rural Village Water Resources Management Project has also contributed each year by conducting activities as part of the Global Hand Washing Campaign.
Considering the COVID-19 situation in Nepal and globally, the National Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (NSHCC), Nepal, decided to conduct a month-long National Hand Washing Campaign from 29th September 2020 to 30th October 2020 across the country. As Nepal was declared Open Defaecation Free (ODF) last year on 29th September, NSHCC has selected 29 September to kick off the campaign.
During the last few months of COVID-19, we have seen a massive increase in hand washing – great news on the road to Total Sanitation. During the campaign, all the normal project activities have included hand washing practice. It sounds simple – surely everyone knows how to wash their hands! But in reality, most of us are too quick. Effective handwashing takes time (long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice!) and lots of soap and water. User committees, home garden management groups, students, child clubs, mothers’ groups and community people have all been trained in the importance, stages and steps of hand washing.
Permanent behaviour change–leading everyone to wash their hands regularly, including at key moments such as after toileting or work outside the house, before preparing or eating food, or caring for small children – needs key elements. These are information on the appropriate method, access to soap and water, incentive (such as the reasonable fear of COVID19!), and repetition. Triggering tools – as used in the ODF campaign – are useful here. It is important that everyone in the household washes their hands regularly and our staff need to think of appropriate methods to trigger this, so that handwashing becomes automatic.
The following are some of the activities conducted so far by RVWRMP during the National Hand Washing Campaign.
1. Banners, flexes and pamphlets with the messages of hand washing were displayed at:
Public places, Rural Municipality offices, schools, hand washing stations and tap stands, and in all the activities being conducted at RMs.
2. Hand washing practices were demonstrated in the RVWRMP trainings and meetings, including:
User Committee Management Training, Business Plan Preparation Training, Data verification workshop for WASH Plan preparation, Production plan preparation training for model farmers, Child club meetings, Schools, Community meetings, municipality offices, and at household level.
3. Campaigning through different media:
Hand washing messages and photographs were shared through social media, especially via Facebook.
Participants’ profile pictures were framed with hand washing messages in Facebook.
The Deputy Team Leader was interviewed on radio regarding the national hand washing campaign
A hand washing video clip was published on the RVWRMP Facebook page.