You are here

On October 15, the Bank observes Global Handwashing Day

Public officials, Bank staff and residents of a town in Chad get together for a demonstration of effective handwashing with soap. Chad is a beneficiary of the Bank Group-financed Semi-urban and Rural Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Program in 11 of its regions.

The African Development Bank joined the international community in observing Global Handwashing Day on October 15. Global Handwashing Day, organized by the Global Handwashing Partnership, is intended to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits. It promotes handwashing with soap at critical points during the day, such as before cooking, eating, feeding others, or after using the toilet. These are key factors in disease prevention and can potentially lead to a 25-50 percent reduction in respiratory and intestinal diseases.

Some might not see a direct link between a “bank” and the washing of hands, but at the African Development Bank, the link is a strong one. This year’s Global Handwashing Day theme is “Clean hands – the recipe for health.” This falls within the Bank’s Strategic Plan to operationalize poverty reduction by increasing interventions in rural, urban and peri-urban water supply and sanitation as well as promoting integrated management of water resources. It is also in line with the Bank’s High 5 priority area, “Improve the quality of life of people of Africa,” as it will improve the health of the population.

With a water and sanitation portfolio of about US $4.2 billion across 42 African countries, the Bank strives to be Africa’s premier partner in achieving water security for inclusive and sustainable growth. The Bank’s Water Development and Sanitation Department is responsible for coordination of the institution’s water sector activities, development of non-sovereign water projects and support to develop and manage sovereign water programs. Some of the Bank’s recent projects include:

Supporting Gabon with a $86.7-million loan to reduce its drinking water deficit of 50,000 cubic metres per day.

In Tunisia, the Bank approved $86-million loan and a grant of €1 million to finance the first phase of the sanitation program for small municipalities.

The Bank backed Mozambique’s US $27-million loan from the Bank’s African Development Fund to finance a water supply and sanitation project in the country’s northern Niassa Province. 

In Zimbabwe’s Chitungwiza Municipality, the Bank is managing the ZimFund, a multi-donor grant facility for its Urgent Water Supply and Sanitation Rehabilitation project.

The Bank is bringing clean, potable and sustainably produced water to Africa’s rural and urban communities. Clean water combined with soap for handwashing is the only cost-effective system that can transform clean water into tangible health benefits.

At a village public water tap in Senegal, men look on as a woman demonstrates effective handwashing. Senegal is a beneficiary of the Bank Group-financed Rural Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Program

The Bank’s Medical Centre, in collaboration with the Bank’s Department of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development, marks Global Handwashing Day as the kickoff to the Bank’s Nutrition Week activities from October 15-19, 2018. Nutrition Week aims to raise Bank staff awareness about the importance of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. 

“As we are also celebrating the Bank’s Nutrition Week, washing our hands with soap is a nutrition-sensitive intervention,” said Jennifer Blanke, the Bank’s Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development. “The Bank is committed to ensuring that this intervention becomes standard practice in the workplace and throughout the Bank’s water and sanitation projects and programs.”

The Director of the Bank’s Water Development and Sanitation Department, Wambui Gichuri, emphasizes that universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, especially for the poor and vulnerable is a key requirement to achieve improved nutrition outcomes. “We also need to include water quality considerations, the continuity of supply, household water treatment options and handwashing in the design of our inventions,” she said. 

Related Sections