However, most children in developing countries haven’t been raised with hand washing as a priority. Even with the increase in the accessibility of soap and water, it seems difficult to change habits and increase hand hygiene. Determined to break that vicious circle, a global team took a behaviour point of view to build hand hygiene into a daily routine for young children. The team started the ‘Hand Washing Angels’ initiative with children at the Royal Gate School in Bondo, Kenya in late 2019, with a ‘blue and behaviour’ child hand soap design that involved over 4000 hand washing moments.
The initiative, created and led by Edward Huizenga – UMIO’s Professor in Strategy, Innovation and Change, along with Diversey and colleagues at Benthurst and Co, uses behavioural science research as the starting point for this project. The interdisciplinary project group started looking at ways of building hand hygiene into a daily routine that improves personal hygiene in young children. They used nudging and behaviour change techniques and applied them to hand washing to put a habit building mechanism in place and make daily hygiene habits become a reality.
“The community in Bondo, Kenya was very enthusiastic. It is a private school and they embraced this innovative idea. By design, we did not want to start in the capital city, which already gets a lot of help, but in a rural environment. Thanks to Paul and Irene Blankers, teachers in the Netherlands who are closely connected to the school, we were able to make the connection with the school, and thanks to them, we could start this project”.