Aarti Chhabra, New Delhi
Diarrhoea and other hygiene related diseases kill millions in developing countries. It is a startling fact, that more than 2 million children lose their lives to diarrhea every year. It is even more alarming, that a major contributor to this number is India. Washing hands with soap at key occasions during the day has been proven to be the most cost-effective and scalable solution to prevent the spread of deadly infections likes pneumonia and diarrhea (Cairncross, S. Valdmanis V. 2006.). This simple act has the potential to save millions of lives.
Lifebuoy's efforts in India are commendable and every year they aim to reach even more segments of the society. In April 2014, Lifebuoy chose the occasion of the mid-day meal to convey this message. India's mid-day meal scheme feeds over 120 million children a day, making it the perfect opportunity to address the maximum number of children across schools, at the actual moment of truth.
Across many rural schools, it is found that children do not wash hands before having lunch, despite the availability of soap. It turns out that old & heavy hand-operated pumps are the only way to access water in these schools. Young children find it difficult & tiresome to operate these pumps and hence would simply not bother coming near them.
This time, they lured children into using soap by turning a boring school pump into playtime through a simple and inexpensive rocking horse artefact that was designed to be attached to those forgotten school pumps. A specially crafted rocking horse, made from a combination of wood and metal with a simple screw-on was installed. At lunchtime, when children headed out of class for their meal, they were taken by surprise by this colourful addition to their school premises. Promoters explained the concept and the proper technique of washing hands with soap along with putting up posters at prominent spots in the school to explain the "Jump Pump" game.
Apart from this, Lifebuoy soap was also provided to ensure soap availability throughout the activation period. 1500 rural schools across UP & Maharashtra are being impacted with this activity between April-May 2014.
George Koshy, General Manager (Skin Cleansing), HUL: "Lifebuoy has a proud history of being a brand that stands for saving lives. It is indeed our mission to ensure that hand washing with soap becomes a habit for children, as a step to reducing diarrheal mortality. The 'Jump Pump' activation is an innovative approach, appealing to children in a manner that is fun and enjoyable."