Government has called on all roleplayers in the water and sanitation sector to work together in intensifying the message about the importance of washing hands with water and soap as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The call comes ahead of the Global Hand Washing Day, observed on 15 October.
The annual global advocacy day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.
It is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has emphasised the importance of washing hands with water and soap, “not only during the month of October, but as a lifestyle to keep a healthy life.”
“The reason is simple, by the washing of hands with water and soap; you can protect yourself from many kinds of diseases and illnesses like COVID-19, cholera, and diarrhoea.
According to the General Household Survey of 2020, 82.1% of households in South Africa have access to a basic level of sanitation, with 88.2% of households having access to pipe or tap water, be it off site or onsite.
The department said this information is important because households that have access to hand washing facilities such as basins, bowls or functioning taps, mainly washed hands with water and soap, rather than those that don’t have access to these facilities
“Furthermore, there is a need to strengthen support to Water Service Authorities like municipalities. This can be done through water and sanitation sector collaboration and partnerships.
“Participation by communities will also be strengthened by further enhancing water and sanitation forums,” the department said.
Global Handwashing Day started in 2008 when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with water and soap in more than 70 countries.