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Hand Washing Prevents COVID-19 Spread and Saves Lives. Here’s How:


Hand Washing Prevents COVID-19 Spread and Saves Lives. Here’s How:

How can you protect yourself against COVID-19 without water? That is a question faced by more than 785 million people worldwide who live in areas without reliable access to clean water.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of millions of people across the world, especially in the fragile settings where Relief International works.

“For me, if there’s one bright spot in all of this disruption,” Relief International’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Global Technical Director Jill Lauren Hass shares, “it’s that hand washing has received the attention it deserves as a way to prevent the spread of disease. It is easy, affordable, and it works.

The past nine months have shone a light on the hardships that millions of people face every single day. In many of the communities where we work, families lack clean water, a critical resource for handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus and other diseases. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 45% of all healthcare facilities do not have access to soap or running water and globally one quarter of all health care facilities lacked basic water services in 2016.

From Syria to Yemen, and Sudan, our teams are working tirelessly to protect communities’ health by raising awareness about hand washing, social distancing, and other preventative measures.

This Global Hand Washing Day, go inside our water, sanitation, and hygiene responses to COVID-19:

  • SUDAN: Our health team inside Sudan’s Zamzam camp have set up innovative handwashing stations across the camp to promote and facilitate increased hand washing. Each sink is operated by three foot pedals: one for soap, one for water, and one for hand sanitizer.

A woman living in Zamzam camp washes her hands with clean water and soap at one of the handwashing stations set up by Relief International.

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  • YEMEN: Often called the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, families are now facing a new threat: COVID-19. Pictured here, our health teams host a hand washing demonstration for new staff in southern Yemen.

Our health team demonstrates best hygiene practices for new staff members to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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  • SYRIA: Nine years of war have all but destroyed Syria’s healthcare system, which now must face the added threat of COVID-19. Here, our health teams continue to serve displaced families by stressing the importance of washing your hands with soap and water, in addition to providing life-saving healthcare services.


A Relief International staff member teaches young children displaced inside Syria how to wash their hands.
Our teams inside Syria are teaching displaced families how to protect themselves against the coronavirus, including washing their hands with soap and clean water.
A young Syrian boy learns to wash his hands with soap and water.
  • JORDAN: As lockdown restrictions are lifted, hand washing keeps our students safe as they return to the classroom. Last month, we resumed in-person classes for students living in Jordan’s Azraq and Za’atari refugee camps.

Students living in Jordan's Za’atari refugee camp wash their hands before attending in-person classes at our education centers.

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  • MYANMAR: Handwashing is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Our teams have set up health check points across Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Each station is equipped with hand washing stations and posters with critical information on how to prevent the virus’s spread.

Relief International's teams have set up handwashing stations in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

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  • SOMALIA: Pictured here, community hygiene workers trained by Relief International hold a session on hand washing at one of our health facilities in Somalia’s Hiran region. Hand washing stations are set up outside all of our health centers to limit the spread of COVID-19.


A woman washes her hands with soap and water outside one of Relief International's health centers in Somalia.
Community hygiene workers trained by Relief International hold a hand washing demonstration for families living in Somalia's Hiran region.
Our health teams share hand washing tips and critical information about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus with families in Somalia's Hiran region.
  • SOUTH SUDAN: Across the country, hand washing stations have been set up and our teams are training others on proper hygiene practices. Regular temperature checks are also required before entering our health facilities.

A woman washes her hands at one of the handwashing stations set up by Relief International. Our staff have been educating families across South Sudan about best hygiene practices to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

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  • TURKEY: Accurate information is key for stopping COVID-19. At each of our healthcare centers, we’re sharing informational posters with our patients to help keep themselves and their families safe.

Pictured here, our staff share information with patients at our health centers about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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