Arup handwashing project wins award from International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Sarah Wright - Communications Coordinator Sarah Wright UKIMEA Press Office,London
6 December 2018


Arup, in partnership with the British Red Cross and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has won an award highlighting innovation in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with substantial impact on tropical health for its handwashing project. The project won in the Programme category of The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) awards.

For those living in informal settlements – often as a result of humanitarian crises – diseases such as cholera, pneumonia and diarrhoea can spread quickly and with fatal results. According to joint research from UNICEF, WHO and UNHCR, diarrhoeal disease can cause 40% of all deaths during the acute stages of an emergency, and up to 80% of deaths among children. Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective public health interventions as it has the potential to reduce both diarrhoeal disease and acute respiratory infections.

The British Red Cross approached Arup to design a handwashing facility which is suitable for rapid deployment around the world, supporting humanitarian interventions and reducing the transmission of disease. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provided expert advice on the science behind handwashing and how to encourage effective behaviour change among target populations.

The Arup team included experts from the fields of product design, international development, human factors and water engineering. The handwashing solution is currently being prototyped and will be tested in the field from next year.

The project is part of Arup’s Community Engagement Global Challenge initiative, which supports projects addressing key issues in water and energy around the world.

The unique collaboration between Arup and our partners brings a fresh approach to tackling complex humanitarian challenges which require a range of expertise. We are confident that this new way of working will ultimately help our client to create even greater outcomes in effective handwashing to support refugees and displaced people in times of crisis around the world. ” Martin Shouler Martin Shouler London Water Leader

The Awarded team The Awarded team
Arup collaboration with British Red Cross and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine wins Programs award from International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

I am particularly pleased that ISNTD recognised this initiative in the ‘programme’ category rather than the ‘product’ category. This not only speaks to the dynamic collaboration we have established between the partners but also to our way of conceptualising the challenge of handwashing in humanitarian crises. Throughout this process we have kept crisis-affected populations and frontline humanitarian staff at the heart of what we are designing. This has led us to view the ‘simple handwashing facility’ as something that can bring change and enhance dignity and agency in circumstances where it is otherwise lacking. ” Sian White Research Fellow, LSHTM

Gregory Rose, Health & WaSH Technical Team Manager at British Red Cross said: "Our experience has shown that handwashing in emergencies is more likely to fail than to succeed. Having the hardware which enables, which is convenient and simple to maintain, is our collective aim. We are extremely grateful to ISNTD for their recognition of this partnership and for their continued support in raising awareness of the needs."