For the past two years, the British Red Cross has worked in partnership with Arup and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to develop a emergency handwashing unit solution that can be used in disaster response settings.
After the first prototypes where manufactured, I went back to the Kyangwali refugee settlement Uganda to test how the Jengu prototype would perform in the field.
Two units (Adult and Child) were set up by Uganda Red Cross Society Volunteers at the Refuge reception centre, where refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo keep arriving almost every day.
The team consulted with the community and collected feedback from women, men, children and people with reduced mobility. The units proved very popular and were enthusiastically received – people much preferring them to the standard ‘tap on a raised 25 litre tank’ currently used. The novelty of a mirror and perfumed soap were an obvious attraction and the operation of the simple foot pump came naturally to users with little need for guidance.
Two other units were installed at the health centre (adults and reduced mobility version) with both versions well received. A few recommendations for improvements have been fed back to the designers, with further feedback from the community anticipated as the longer-term testing continues. It is hoped that with some further refinements this could possibly become the accepted and appropriate solution to the emergency hand washing issue.
The next steps will be to finalise the prototypes and start dissemination of this new unit among humanitarian actors for use in emergency responses.
I really hope Jengu can soon scale up and start being used in a lot of places where is very much needed.