GSP Director of Operations Lilly Dimling went to Kenya in August 2012 and crossed the country talking to communities and assessing their sanitation hygiene desires and needs. She found very few hand washing stations near latrines, and virtually no soap available.
A study by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) on behalf of Kenya’s Ministry of Public Health found that handwashing with soap is still rare in Kenya. The specifics of the study found:
- Handwashing with soap in school is almost nonexistent – only 1% washed hands with soap and 28% washed hands in some way
- 77% of primary school children do not wash hands with soap especially in schools, leaving them vulnerable to suffering from diarrhea.
- Handwashing with soap takes low priority at the household level. It comes after bathing, doing laundry and washing dishes. The research noted that Kenyans wash their hands with soap after leaving the toilet and but not before handling food. It seems that few people understand the relationship between the lack of washing hands and diseases.
- The study recommended that any handwashing messages should mainly target women since they are the key decision makers on soap usage at the household level.
Keeping these finds in mind, GSP has actively engaged in WASH education in schools and well as targeted women’s groups for WASH training with our soap. We strive to help behavior modification so handwashing with soap becomes a habit with the positive impact being a decrease in disease.
In 2013 our in country partner received a container of soap and used it for several different programs. They did needs assessments in the counties where they work, and found remote villagers, several schools, and a community within Africa’s largest slum in dire need of soap to complete their water, sanitation and hygiene efforts. Our partner has a staff member who conducts hygiene education through song and skits, passing on the important message of the connection between health and hygiene.