COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11th March needs a lot of research to be done – however, one thing we know is washing one’s hands with soap and water is crucial to help curb the spread of the disease. With handwashing being the first and foremost defense mechanism against the novel coronavirus,  WaterAid Nepal, in collaboration with the Government of Nepal and its partners are raising awareness about the pandemic and handwashing.

The contactless water station at Metro Police Range, Lalitpur. Image: Supplied

The contactless water station at Metro Police Range, Lalitpur. Image: Supplied

WaterAid Nepal has therefore started the installation of contact less handwashing stations in 50 locations inside Kathmandu valley and plans to install 25 stations in Lahan municipality, Siraha district. WaterAid Nepal support aims to enable access to handwashing stations where essential in all current working areas.
The inauguration event of the contact less handwashing station was held today evening at the office of the Metro Police Range-Lalitpur. The event was in attendance of  Mr. Chiri Babu Maharja, Mayor of the Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Senior Medical Doctor Mr. Bhagban Koirala and Senior Superident of Police, Mr. Tek Prasad Rai.

Targetting the general public, a soft launch of the contact less hand washing station was also organised in Lagankhel market place and bus stop in the morning today. Mr. Chiri Babu Maharja, Mayor of the Lalitpur Metropolitan City, thanked WaterAid Nepal and its partners for launching such a cost effective innovative
technology during the global crisis. He also assured support from the municipality for such collaborative works in the future.

Senior Medical Doctor Mr. Bhagban Koirala said hand washing is one of the two major tools to fight Covid-19. He stated that contact less hand washing technology introduced by the organization will prevent the spread of the virus. He further added that such support should be extended to many hospitals, police stations and public
places as well.

Senior Superident Police, Mr. Tek Prasad Rai, thanked WaterAid Nepal and its partners for launching this hand washing tool. He claimed that this is very useful to the entire police force involved in bringing good environment to cope with global pandemic COVID 19.

The contact less handwashing station is a simple mechanism operated by foot, reducing the human hand touch. The push taps by foot is hygienic as the user does not have to touch the tap once they have washed their hands. The contact less handwashing stations installed by WaterAid Nepal will be maintained with sufficient
supply of water and , soap for three months with the support of our partner Captain Outdoors Pvt Ltd, who have innovated this design to help respond to Covid-19 inspired by hygiene campaigns of WaterAid.

Tripti Rai, Country Director, WaterAid Nepal said, “Hand washing with soap and water is crucial to help prevent spread of Covid-19. However, this simple prevention measure is not equally accessible to 14.8 million population and 54% of the health care facilities in Nepal have no handwashing materials available at point of care. WaterAid in countries where we work, including in Nepal, is supporting governments on hygiene
promotion campaigns, installing adequate handwashing stations and scaling up our existing work to promote hygiene behaviours. All this, of course, under the increasing lockdowns and social distancing rules we are all navigating, are part of our ‘do no harm’ approach. During this pandemic, the challenge still remains to reach those unreached. In this unprecedented situation, it’s important to act urgently for general public health, while ensuring we leave no-one behind. WASH services such as water supply systems and sanitation services must be functional and extensively made available in this crisis, as it is a key backbone to help prevent the pandemic.”

What is WaterAid Nepal doing to stop the spread of Covid-19?

WaterAid Nepal has been a key actor in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector for over three decades. Their role is to strengthen and support people and provide access to the public health intervention to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. WaterAid Nepal is currently working in collaboration with relevant government authorities and partners to support the initiatives of the Government of Nepal (primarily Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), WASH cluster and in coordination with peers in the Association of International NGOs and NGO Federation) to respond for preparedness and response against the possible outbreak of Covid-19 in Nepal.

In close coordination with the Federal and Local Governments, WaterAid Nepal has reached to over a million people for raising awareness about Covid-19 pandemic in six (Bardiya, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Kavrepalanchowk, Dolakha and Siraha) districts of Nepal. WaterAid Nepal has been targeting its interventions to sanitation workers, who provide essential services even in emergency and lockdown. Sanitation workers are a vulnerable group with lack of social protective mechanisms and are at high risk due to exposure to contaminants; health workers and Dalit communities of Siraha district.

WaterAid Nepal will continue its media and communications for behaviour change to prevent Covid-19 pandemic and demonstration of models of hand washing stations during the initial phase of response till the lock down continues and will implement intermediate and long-term aimed at strengthening WASH systems and sustaining behaviour change after the lock down opens.

WaterAid Nepal is planning to establish such hand washing stations in other districts as well to demonstrate innovative hand washing system and to motivate people washing hands, which helps to fight against Covid-19 and other diseases.