Improving hygiene in hospitals, schools and refugee camps
The handwashing station
In many refugee camps, hospitals and schools in develop-ing countries, drinking water is not available next to toilets or close to cooking and eating places. The taps are broken or do not exist, water tanks are empty. Or drinking water is scarce and people do not want to "waste" it for handwash-ing. But dirty hands means spreading sickness, including cholera and typhus, especially in such critical places like hospitals and refugee camps.
We develop autonomous and easy to use systems to recy-cle water for handwashing using gravity only. The system is filled once. Afterwards, people can wash their hands during many weeks without need to refill the system.
Our handwashing system helps to provide source of water for handwashing only and spare drinking water for drink-ing. Refilling is required once a month only, minimizing the time required for maintenance of the systems.
The system is filled once. Afterwards, up to 100 people can clean their hands every hour, during many weeks. In many refugee camps, hospitals and schools in low-income countries, drinking water is scarce and people do not "waste" it for handwashing. But dirty hands means spreading sickness, including cholera and typhus. Our system helps to provide source of water for handwashing only and spare drinking water for drinking.
Why wash your hands?
Handwashing reduces gastrointestinal illness by 31%, and respiratory infections by 21%
(24 studies, meta-analysis by Aiello et al., 2008)
Challenges with handwashing devices?
the inconvenience of frequently refilling the container
getting the user’s feet wet whilst washing hands
the requirement of a support structure
(ELRHA HIF Gap analysis, 2013)
The core of the system is a membrane filter. Its pores are smaller than bacteria and viruses and filters those out, but larger than water molecules and minerals and let those through. So, filtered water is free of pathogenic microor-ganisms. To take out also smell, color and soap, we added an activated carbon filter. The system works entirely with-out electricity, only using gravity and manual foot pump. The filter does not require any maintenance, complex cleaning or replacement for 5-8 years of operation and is easy to use. Simply emptying the tank about once in a month is sufficient to clean it. The concept has been suc-cessfully evaluated on the pilot scale in a lab and at the music festival. It was further developed during an innovation bootcamp in Budapest organised by Terre des hommes. Currently we work on different design concepts suitable for different user groups and scales. The next phase involves testing of operational prototypes in refugee camps and hospitals. It is currently being tested in Palestine and Nigeria.
How does it work?
And does it actually work?
First longer tests in Nigeria and Palestine show that the system is working and saving water everyday. Peopel and especially the school children like to use the system, as it is a fun way to develop propoer hand hygiene behaviour. Below you find some first insights into our test results.