20.6  Handwashing facilities

Every latrine or toilet must have handwashing facilities. As you know, hygiene is an essential component of health promotion and one of the critical times for handwashing is after visiting the toilet. A latrine without a proper handwashing facility will not serve its ultimate objective of disease prevention.

If there is no running water, handwashing stations can be made using jerrycans (Figure 20.9), tin cans, wooden bowls, or pottery depending on the local culture and custom of your community. Simple devices can be made using very basic materials (Figure 20.10).

Handwashing facility
Figure 20.9  Handwashing facility outside the latrine at a Health Post. (Photo: Pam Furniss)
Simple handwashing facility
Figure 20.10  Simple handwashing facility placed conveniently outside a household latrine. (Photo: Pam Furniss)

To make a handwashing station similar to the one in Figure 20.10, follow these easy steps: (Source: adapted from USAID/HIP, 2007)

  1. Find a plastic container of approximately 5 litres capacity. A jerrycan or gourd can also be used.
  2. You will also need a hollow tube to make the spout. You can use a pen casing (as shown in Figure 20.10), a pawpaw stem or anything that is hollow. You will also need a sharp knife, nail or screwdriver.
  3. Decide on the design of your handwashing station before you begin working. Will your container sit on a platform or hang and tip?
  4. Wash the container and tube so they are free from visible dirt.
  5. Heat the knife, nail or screwdriver to make piercing a hole for the tube easier.
  6. Make a small hole for inserting the tube. Make it as low on the container as you can, about 2 cm (two finger widths) from the bottom. Be careful to make it smaller than the tube.
  7. Slowly and carefully push the tube into the hole. Be very careful not to push the hole so big that it leaks.
  8. Test the water flow:
    • When using a plastic bottle: water is delivered when the bottle cap is unscrewed and stops flowing when the cap is tightly shut.
    • When using a jerrycan or gourd: water comes out when the cap on the pen or plug in the container is removed. If you don’t have the original pen cap, find an old stick to ‘plug’ the flow.

Finally, set up the station right by the latrine by hanging it from a string around the neck, or setting it on a stable platform. You should also provide soap or ash for washing.

20.7  Your role in latrine construction