Jan/Feb 2011

Hygenic living Hand-washing device promotes community health

Every year, diarrhoea and infections cause the death of millions of
children under the age of five. Washing hands regularly with soap and water can prevent the spread of these dreaded diseases and cut the death rate by half. But many poor communities have limited access to clean water. An affordable hand-washing dispenser developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will go a long way towards helping such communities.

Many communities in South Africa’s deep rural areas have limited
access to clean water. The CSIR’s hand-washing dispenser helps such communities by providing households with a cheap, easy-to-use and hygienic way to wash their hands with soap.

So far, more than 110 000 units of this device have reached communities throughout the country, through municipality sanitation drives and non-governmental organisations in the water and sanitation sector.

Its target market also include schools, disaster areas, and large gatherings such as refugee camps.

How does it work?

All you need is an empty two-litre cool drink bottle. Fill it with clean water and screw the hand-washing dispenser onto the full bottle. The
dispenser releases enough water to enable hand washing with soap. It has a soap dish and hangs upside down on a bracket fastened to a

To get the water, place your hands under the device, which will lift up the plunger. When you lower your hands, the device seals itself. This stops water wastage and allows around 30 hand washes for every two litres of water.

Why is it safer than using a bucket?

Using a bucket of water for hand washing outside a toilet is unhygienic because many people use the same water. This promotes spreading of germs and diseases. An open bucket also attracts dirt, like dust, leaves, insects and other pollutants. In addition, animals may also drink from it and children may play with or drink it.

Who supplies the handwashing dispenser?

Two Pretoria-based companies have received licences to sell and
supply the dispenser to municipalities, contractors and non-governmental organisations.

Zibako Trading Enterprises will cover the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and Free State provinces. Magnolia Ridge Properties will cover Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

– Samona Murugan

Share this page