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.