Portfolio Learnings: Changing handwashing behaviour in Bangladesh
Published on: 13/12/2020
In the latest Portfolio Learnings, we revisit our inspiring handwashing social enterprise, HappyTap, to see how the business is developing in its efforts to encourage people in Bangladesh to wash their hands with soap.
Given the importance of handwashing but low practice rates (approximately 2% in Bangladesh), the HappyTap team set out to help families form healthy handwashing habits – to prevent diarrhoea and infectious disease – by launching a purpose-built portable sink designed to encourage people to wash their hands with soap.
HappyTap draws on the evidence about handwashing behaviour change and seeks to find a practical solution. After a successful launch in Vietnam, HappyTap expanded its operations to Bangladesh in 2018, made possible with the support of TRANSFORM.
HappyTap in Bangladesh
With overwhelmingly positive response from mothers, caregivers and teachers during testing in rural areas, the HappyTap team adapted the design of the solution for this new market, such as deeper basins and larger containers, and began engaging local manufacturing partners.
TRANSFORM supported HappyTap in its expansion to Bangladesh, which included recruiting key team members, conducting market research, finding manufacturing partners and optimising the device for behaviour change.
HappyTap has now finalised its design, and in the coming months will deliver a multi-channel marketing campaign, scale up sales and distribution, and investigate further expansion.
Adapting to the home
Efforts to encourage handwashing with soap is often focused on children in schools. While students learning healthy habits is important, HappyTap focuses on the home setting for a couple of key reasons.
First, children need a way to practice what they learn at school. And second – and most importantly –, children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to diarrhoea-related deaths and irreversible development damage.
During this critical time, children spend their time at home with their family and caregivers. HappyTap’s mission is to modify the home setting so that handwashing is part of the everyday routine of adults who feed and care for children.
Initial market research showed that rural target customers in Bangladesh found the product attractive, quickly understood its potential for convenience and found it to be useful in other settings as well (especially restaurants and indeed, potentially schools).
Handwashing & SDG6
SDG 6.2.1 tracks the percentage of population with handwashing facilities in the home since the presence of handwashing facilities is used as a proxy for handwashing behaviour.
The most important way we can help to achieve SDG 6.2.1, at scale and across different contexts, is by helping families acquire a dedicated handwashing facility. For families in Bangladesh, HappyTap is modifying the design, and testing marketing strategies and channels to make a compelling case for purchase.
What’s to come
For HappyTap, upcoming activities include manufacturing and the official product launch, developing marketing and recruiting a sales team.
TRANSFORM will continue to provide support in its mission to help meet the needs of underserved communities and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6. For more information on this and other projects, please see Our Portfolio.
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