Lifebuoy 'pumps' some fun into handwashing
It is a startling fact, that more than two million children across the world, lose their lives to diarrhoea every year. It is even more alarming, that a major contributor to this number is India. Washing hands with soap at key occasions during the day has been proven to be the most cost-effective and scalable solution to prevent the spread of deadly infections likes pneumonia and diarrhoea (Cairncross, S. Valdmanis V. 2006.). This simple act has the potential to save millions of lives.
Lifebuoy has implemented several innovative programs over the years to create habit change for handwashing amongst children as well as to raise awareness about the five critical handwashing occasions in a day. Of these five, one of the most important is washing hands with soap before eating.
Conveying the message at mid-day meals
In April 2014, Lifebuoy chose the occasion of the mid-day meal to convey this message. India’s mid-day meal scheme feeds over 120 million children a day, making it the perfect opportunity to address the maximum number of children across schools, at the moment of truth.
Across many rural schools, the Lifebuoy team found that children were not washing hands before having lunch, despite the availability of soap. It turns out that old and heavy hand-operated pumps are the only way to access water in these schools. Young children find it difficult and tiresome to operate these pumps and hence would simply not bother coming near them. The LB team focused their intervention on this key barrier.
The idea was simple - turn the boring and cumbersome handpump into a fun game, while making it easier to operate.
The Lifebuoy team installed a specially crafted rocking horse, made from a combination of wood and metal with a simple screw-on mechanism, on to the handles of these hand pumps in schools – transforming them into “Jump-Pumps”.
At lunchtime, when children headed out of class for their meal, they were taken by surprise by this colourful addition to their school premises. Promoters explained the concept and the proper technique of washing hands with soap along with putting up posters at prominent spots in the school to explain the “Jump Pump” game. Apart from this, Lifebuoy soap was also provided to ensure soap availability throughout the activation period.
1500 rural schools across UP and Maharashtra are being impacted with this activity between April-May 2014.