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Safe Pair of Hands Success

By Practical Action On 09.12.2021 CitiesWater & wasteNews

Safe Pair of Hands has come to an end after three successful years. The project improved access to clean water, handwashing facilities and improved hygiene practices for families living in informal settlements in Kisumu, Kenya.

The project was funded through an appeal launched in 2017 in which every donation was matched pound for pound by the UK Government. The appeal raised over £1 million, with the matched funds going directly into the project, which started in August 2018.

Kisumu is Kenya’s third largest city and access to clean, safe water and decent sanitation is a challenge. Many people live in informal settlements where the situation was dire. The toilets that were available were used by many households and were in poor condition, they also lacked handwashing facilities. Diarrhoea and other water borne diseases were a huge problem, especially in children. Repeated bouts of diarrhoea can cause malnutrition in children under five, causing stunting and wasting.

Thanks to the generosity of the British public and the UK government, we were able to support thousands of families living in Kisumu and the project will have a lasting impact.

Imelda washes her hands at her home

Improved water access

 Over the three years the project extended water supply pipelines by 18.5Km, improving water access to 3,966 households and benefiting 19,830 people. This has led to:

  • A reduction in water costs for households
  • A reduction in the time spent by women and girls fetching water due to there being more water points closer to their homes.

 Improved handwashing facilities for carers and young children

 The project worked closely with Early Childhood Development Centres to ensure that children under five and their carers were being reached. All 43 centres had handwashing stations fitted so children attending the centres could wash their hands. 3,001 children now have access to these facilities and their teachers have been trained to make soap for the school, saving vital funding and ensuring all pupils properly wash their hands.

Handwashing Kenya

Improved handwashing facilities in a school in Kenya

Behaviour change

Developing understanding and sharing knowledge of the importance of handwashing and improved hygiene was a key part of the project. Diarrhoea and other water borne diseases are often caused by cross contamination and poor hygiene.

Through building relationships with local health workers, organisations and communities, the project was able to successfully change the behaviour of people living in informal settlements. Training of Health Volunteers and Teachers ensured distribution of vital information. This was done in various ways:

  • Wall murals, comic books, posters and teacher-led health education sessions in centres and schools
  • Radio talk shows
  • Hygiene promotion and training sessions
  • Home visits by Community Health Volunteers
  • Poster and leaflets distributed to communities

Children at a school in Kenya present a poster detailing improved hygiene practices





Pauline Aluoch

Pauline’s children often suffered from diarrhoea. Her neighbour was concerned and referred her to the local clinic. “I just could not figure out why my children had diarrhoea over and over again,” she explained. After her visit to the clinic, she attended a hygiene session facilitated by Practical Action. As part of the session, Pauline learnt about the importance of handwashing.

“The training was an eye opener for me because I was able to see some of the things that I had to change.”

Pauline soon set up her own handwashing station in her home which means she can easily wash her hands regularly. She’s also improved the hygiene around her home so her children can play in a safer environment.

“Now my kids eat with clean hands and their clothes are even more clean now! So far my children have not had diarrhoea since they were last treated”

Pauline Alucoh

 “Access to clean, safe water and decent sanitation, combined with better handwashing is truly lifesaving and has a long-term impact on the overall health of communities.”

Lucy Stevens, Head of Urban Services, Practical Action


Read more about the Safe Pair of Hands Project.

All public donations were matched pound for pound by the UK Government.Matching your donations with UK aid

Donations from the UK public supported Practical Action’s work with communities around the world.

Donations matched by the UK Government were used to help families in Kenya.