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USAID IUWASH PLUS Joins Forces to Promote Handwashing with Soap, Fight Off COVID-19

As COVID-19 is spreading globally, hand washing with soap (HWWS) is intensively being promoted by government bodies, medical professionals, celebrities, and other community leaders as one of the effective ways to prevent the virus from entering the human body, in the absence of vaccine and antiviral drugs.

Since March 2020, USAID IUWASH PLUS has joined forces with community members and organizations, as well as puskesmas in the project’s working areas to run proper HWWS campaign. The campaign, which aims to educate community members on the technique of proper HWWS, was conducted through online and offline activities, including the making of hand washing facilities to be placed in public areas and community houses.

The offline public awareness activities are carried out by applying physical distancing as much as possible. For instance, the staff of Puskesmas Bojong and Puskesmas Keradenan in Bogor city use the patients’ waiting time to educate the patients and visitors on how to wash hands properly and ensure the patients and visitors keep physical distancing from one to another.

Taking advantage of digital technology, Puskesmas Bekasi Jaya posts HWWS for COVID-19 prevention on its Facebook handle. Also, the Health Office of Deli Serdang District broadcasts HWWS messages using a jingle that USAID IUWASH PLUS developed on Deli Serdang Berseri Radio, which is owned by the district government.

To ensure more people make hand washing with soap a habit, USAID IUWASH PLUS has supported the community and local stakeholders to build the hand washing with soap stations to cut the COVID-19 transmission in its five project regions. In addition, the project has also contributed to the development of hand washing with soap stations, by providing water taps and/or soap, or in some cases funding the whole facility.

For instance, the community based organizations (KSM) in Mojo and Kadipiro urban villages in Surakarta city as well as Gelangan and Panjang urban villages in Magelang city made public HWWS facilities. These initiatives motivated people in their neighborhoods and in other urban villages to make HWWS facilities to be placed at public places and at homes.

Similarly, the community members in Sariyoso village in Wonosobo district have successfully advocated the village government to build public HWWS facilities. In Malang city, a member of the participatory M&E team in Kasin urban village, Yuliati, made public hand washing facilities from used materials, such as used biscuit tin and water gallon, to be placed in her neighborhood.

The participatory M&E team in Sulamadaha urban village in Ternate built HWWS facilities to be placed in front of the village mosque and distributed to the community members who have yet to have the stations. Inspired by USAID IUWASH PLUS’ HWWS campaign in 2019, Puskesmas Tanjung Ria in Jayapura city made a HWWS facility from a used paint tin and placed it in front of the puskesmas.

“I hope community understands the importance of clean and healthy behaviors. Hopefully, the HWWS facilities will remind people to wash their hands with soap,” said Wheny Susianti, the caretaker of KSM Mojo Waras in Mojo urban village, Surakarta city.

As of April 2020, USAID IUWASH PLUS has contributed to the development of 1,046 hand washing with soap stations, 696 water taps, and 909 soap dispensers. The project’s partners including community members have now developed 5,113 hand washing with soap stations. This number is likely to increase as the hand washing with soap campaign is continuing.

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