Most of us are aware that by washing hands with soap and water you reduce the chances of becoming ill. But did you realise exactly how effective washing your hands can be in protecting you from illnesses? Handwashing can reduce acute respiratory infections by 20% and diarrheal diseases by as much as 48%.

And of course, regular handwashing is our first line of defence against contracting Covid-19, in fact one study has found that the likelihood of contracting coronavirus reduces by a whopping 36% from regular handwashing with soap and water.

The statistics are clear, washing your hands with soap and water is instrumental in reducing the transmission of waterborne diseases and notably the transmission of Covid-19, a virus that has taken the lives of over one million people globally since the beginning of 2020. To beat the virus today and ensure better health outcomes beyond the pandemic, handwashing with soap must be a priority now and in the future. Therefore, this year’s Global Handwashing Day (GHD) theme, Hand Hygiene for All, calls for all of society to achieve universal hand hygiene.

Just a Drop has been teaching the importance of proper handwashing for over 20 years, embedding this and good hygiene behaviours into the day to day lives of communities across the world - creating a culture of positive hygiene and illustrating this year's GHD theme of Hand Hygiene for All.

We have put our experience into action as a response to the global pandemic. In Uganda, our programme has included installing handwashing stations in health centres and ramping up soap making workshops, with soap making materials and training provided by Just a Drop. This means that health centres now have sufficient soap and water throughout ensuring that everyone, doctors and patients alike can wash their hands regularly. The excess soap is sold by the health centres and the income is used to buy more soap making materials, a sustainable income generating exercise ensuring that there is also affordable soap available in the community for handwashing.

We have also provided soap to local markets to enable them to stay open as community members are now able to wash their hands with soap at the handwashing stations installed by Just a Drop and having purchased motorbikes our local teams have been able to visit villages, towns and market places in order to raise more awareness and understanding of the dangers of Covid-19.

Just a Drop provided handwashing stations to health centres and local markets in Uganda, as well as ramping up soap making workshops at the health centres to enable people to wash their hands.

Just a Drop have also been working in schools for many years teaching soap making and providing water to ensure children can wash their hands. They then encourage their parents to buy cheap soap they have made at school for use at home and teach their parents the importance of hand washing. As schools start to reopen they will be able to do so safely with both water and soap available in school.

Muwonge, a Sanitations Manager at one of the Uganda Health Centres where we work explained the importance of soap making workshops and how this and the newly installed handwashing stations changed things:

Life has really changed amongst the health centre staff and our patients including the neighbouring communities ever since the provision of the hand washing facilities. Everyone took on the continued behaviour of hand washing as a routine practice, not as a reminder. Also the continuing production of the good quality and affordable liquid soap helps create an income generating project. Blessing to Just a Drop for the tremendous support given to Namayumba Health Centre IV, my work as a Sanitation Manager has been simplified. Thank you Just a Drop for the loving hearts you have showed Namayumba Health Centre IV.

No matter your role, who you are or where you live, you can celebrate Global Handwashing Day and help Hand Hygiene for All come to fruition by supporting Just a Drop’s hygiene work. It’s never been more critical.

Written by:

Melissa Campbell,

Senior Programmes Manager,

Just a Drop