Global Handwashing Day: COVID-19 reminds us handwashing saves lives

Girls in Yemen learning handwashing techniques from a CARE health volunteer

This year, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, we are reminded that handwashing is a life-saving act.

Today, on Global Handwashing Day:

We celebrate the rural health centres that guarantee handwashing stations and soap even in contexts of water scarcity, and the doctors, nurses, midwives and health volunteers that champion handwashing and wash their own hands to protect our health – in this pandemic and beyond.

We celebrate the schools all over the world that work to provide water and soap to students – and in so doing have increased school attendance and graduation rates.

We celebrate the women, girls, men, and boys of rural households where there is no piped water supply – who build ingenious handwashing stations from bottles, bags, buckets, jerry cans, and ballpoint pen cases – and walk for miles to collect the water to fill them.

We celebrate the families that make homemade soap or dedicate their hard-earned money to buy soap, and those that repurpose their laundry soap, dish-washing soap, or ash to enable effective handwashing.  

And we celebrate the CARE teams across the globe that have worked overtime during this pandemic to ensure that vulnerable communities have access to water and soap to protect themselves against COVID. More than 78 of CARE’s country offices have helped to support water, sanitation, hygiene and hand-washing efforts during COVID – even where CARE did not have existing WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) programmes.

There is more to do. Handwashing seems simple, but ensuring regular handwashing at scale requires sustainable water access. We’ll only get there with consistent investment and robust governance that supports sustainable WASH services – in homes, schools, health facilities and public places. Today, we celebrate handwashing as a simple and life-saving act, and we re-commit ourselves to the deeper systems strengthening work that makes hand-washing possible.

The CARE Water+ Team

Find out more about Water+ at the CARE USA website

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.