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Kanyaga Kanyaga: handwashing with soap made easier and safer in Tanzania

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Since the spread of the coronavirus disease, there has been a sharp rise in handwashing stations in public spaces; from the smallest market stall to the entrance of city council buildings and in major bus terminals. This is no surprise. Frequent and proper hand hygiene is one of the most important measures to prevent contracting/spreading the virus. Now in the forefront of everyone’s minds, this simple and yet often overlooked practice is revolutionising Tanzania’s personal hygiene landscape. Here we share the amazing journey of the Kanyaga Kanyaga handwashing with soap station.

The initial call

It all began in February 2020; when the Arusha City Council approached SNV in Tanzania for support in installing handwashing with soap stations at the entrance and exit of their main building. The government’s request came weeks before the first reported virus case in the country.

In Tanzania, the majority of handwashing with soap (HWWS) stations are designed with multiple contact points. A tap-and-bucket handwashing station requires opening the tap for water to flow and closing it after washing hands. Common soap dispensing machines require squeezing/pressing a device for soap to be released. Due to the increased probability of improper handling, the use of bar soaps does not seem to provide a better option. Though all these devices do promote hygiene, COVID-19 has taught us that these still have the potential to contaminate.

COVID-19 has challenged some of our assumptions and solutions. For SNV’s WASH SDG team, this meant rethinking how to facilitate handwashing with soap in a hygienic and safe way, especially in crowded public places, such as hospitals, schools, markets, local offices, police stations, etc.

The birth of the two-foot-pedal HWWS station

The team came up with the concept of a handwashing with soap (HWWS) station that is operated hands-free and fitted with two-foot pedals. One pedal is used to release water, the other, to release liquid soap. Upon the city council’s approval of SNV’s concept, the team worked with NEPERS, a local company that brought the ideas of SNV to design fruition.

Sketches were made, measurements were done, and the two-foot-pedal HWWS station was born. Features include,

  • a water tank in different size options (min of 20 litres to over 250 litres),

  • a container for liquid soap,

  • a bucket/container to store greywater, and

  • two separate foot-step pedals to release water and soap.

More handwashing means more water use. Yet, what makes the foot-pedal system unique is that water only flows when the pedal is pressed. The greywater is designed to flow into a bucket, which is then, where possible, redirected to a sewer or drain. In some cases, the greywater can be re-used to water plants.

Promoting the Kanyaga Kanyaga

The two-foot-pedal HWWS station, like any other product, needed a brand name for easy recognition and identification. The SNV in Tanzania team engaged in a voting exercise and ended up calling the station the Kanyaga Kanyaga (‘step on it, step on it’) to highlight its unique two-foot-pedal feature.

The Kanyaga Kanyaga were first installed in the offices of the Arusha City Council. Its unique features compelled businesses and passers-by to enquire about the device. Several NGOs working in Arusha were also interested to replicate the design.

To help take the Kanyaga Kanyaga to scale, an article on the HWWS station was published in the NIPASHE newspaper last April. Beyond engaging the support of mainstream media, posters with basic information on the station, its features and who to contact for more information were produced. The posters were placed in strategic public spaces and local government offices that had a good flow and traffic of people.

First Kanyaga Kanyaga designs delivered!

‘I think of this device as being revolutionary. We have not had this before at the city council. I can say it is a blessing, especially during this time, and that SNV should keep doing what they are doing’ - Allan Rushokana, City Sanitation Officer from the Arusha City Council

The Kanyaga Kanyaga is the first design delivered by SNV in Tanzania as part of its WASH SDG programme, which applies SNV’s Urban Sanitation and Hygiene for Health and Development (USHHD) approach. So far, a large four-point HWWS station has been installed in a public place in Arusha, two single-point HWWS stations in the Arusha City Council, and five single-point HWWS stations had been delivered in Shinyanga.

Before COVID-19 became a reality for us all, handwashing with soap practice has already been crucial. It will remain important whether or not COVID-19 (and similar viruses) is here to stay. Moving forward, the WASH sector must put even more effort and resources toward the development of innovative designs and the promotion of proper HWWS to sustain and normalise practice. In line with SNV’s USHHD’s ambition to realise citywide sanitation progress, further modifications are being made to introduce more accessible designs for people with disabilities and children.

Written by: Leyla Khalifa/SNV Tanzania, WASH Junior Advisor with input from Olivier Germain

Original text from SNV Tanzania:

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