Global Handwashing Day - 15 October 2014


WSSCC partners celebrated Global Handwashing Day in some wonderfully inventive ways this year, read some highlights from Nigeria where music stars got involved and from Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania.

Washing with soap can cut diarrhoea by up to 50 percent and a recent community study in Nepal concluded that handwashing with soap can reduce newborn deaths by up to 44 percent.

In Nigeria, two of the country’s biggest music artists joined forces to spread the message of washing hands with soap and water. Each year 1 in 5 children die of diarrhoea in Nigeria but half of these deaths could be prevented by simple handwashing.

Carex Hand Wash Soap is the campaign’s lead sponsor and the communication partner Etisalat delivered a series of SMS messages to people across Nigeria to highlight the importance of handwashing at critical times. The songs by 2Face Idibia and Sunny Neji are also available as ringtones.

Sunny Neji - "Wash Your Hands O!"

2Face Idiba - "Wash Your Hands"


In Kenya, the Global Sanitation Fund's Executing Agency AMREF supported GHD celebrations at both national and county level.


The national function was held at Mathari Primary School located within Nairobi city while county activities were also mainly held at primary schools and public meeting points. Pupils learned appropriate handwashing techniques and had a fun learning experience in a celebratory atmosphere.


In Madagascar, the day saw a collaboration of government, national, and international NGO’s; working together to raise awareness and promote handwashing with soap.; Global Handwashing Day events took place on the southern coast, in Tuléar.

The Ministers of Water, Health and Education headed the event, with an incredible number of leaders in the field also being present to show support.


The attendance of the Minister of Education, the Head of the Region, the Director of WaterAid Madagascar and also the head of Diorano-WASH highlighted how much the country cares about this project.

The aim of the day was to raise awareness, and the sheer size of the event meant that this was most definitely achieved. 400 students participated, from around 20 different schools. The day commenced with a huge parade, led by the drumming of a local group named ‘Bloco Malagasy’, starting the day with a huge bang!


In Malawi, the community of Mphangwa village demonstrated the good practice of washing hands before eating lunch by a public restaurant.

Through the GSF Hygiene Village Project, local Mphangwa communities have been facilitated to form groups where they contribute their own money towards a microfinance programme. The programme has been running for 2 years and more than 75 households have constructed improved toilets as a result of this financing mechanism.


In Tanzania, the Global Sanitation Fund is active in the central region of Dodoma. Children demonstrated an innovation in handwashing by washing hands with a tool designed by one of the local Health officers. The handwashing facility is like tippy-tap, only larger and has two taps, one for water and one for soap. By operating the foot pedal, a small amount of soap is dispensed and a larger amount of water.

Another innovation featured during the day’s events is a chair for disabled handwashing, still in development. The GSF programme is supporting the National programme and by highlighting handwashing as a priority for policy makers, the sector came together on Global Handwashing Day to raise greater awareness of the issue.

Articles and links:

TED talk - Myriam Sidibe: The simple power of handwashing

Other resources:

An excellent factsheet on handwashing and Ebola

Huffington blog post about Global Handwashing Day in the time of Ebola by Jeffrey Sachs and Myriam Sidibe (Unilever)

This infographic from Clean the World illustrates why handwashing is important

Social media posts on Global Handwashing Day 2014: