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Hand Washing Game : Fight Germs with Glitter and Haldi

State and Development Partner

Maharashtra

Plan India

Problem

Children often consume food with their unwashed hands after playing outdoors, and mothers often prepare food with their unwashed hands after spending hours working in the fields. Hands are one of the primary pathways of germ-transmission. Washing hands with soap is essential to ensure that infectious germs are washed off before consumption of food or touching other individuals. But how do you communicate the importance of hygiene to impressionable children when the culprit (i.e. the germs) is not visible to the naked eye?

Conventional Solution

Traditionally, the solution to such problems has been information dissemination by stressing on the importance of hygiene and the benefits of washing hands with soap. The dissemination is done through direct door-to-door messaging at the village level, as well as public interest advertisements on mainstream channels like television and radio programmes. While the information reaches the tarpet audience, often, they don't follow through as there is an intention-action gap. The benefits of cleaning hands after using the toilet and before consuming food are compelling, yet not enouph to push people to change their behaviours.

Behavioural Insights Based Solution

One of the basic principles of behavioural science is to explain the problem in a vivid manner. This ensures that people actively adopt the practice versus them passively ingesting the information. The Glitter Hand Washing Game was introduced to visually demonstrate how germs spread. In this game, glitter or haldi (turmeric) is rubbed on children's and/or mothers' hands and they are asked to shake hands with others. They watch the spread of the glitter or turmeric and this is likened to the spread of germs. The kids and mothers are then asked to wash their hands with water. As water alone does not wash off the glitter or turmeric, they are asked to use soap which makes their hands clean again. When the problem of hygiene is framed in this manner, the focus is on visually demonstrating the spread of germs and what could happen if they don't wash their hands with soap. This registers better in the minds of people, especially children as this game harnesses the power of play and curiosity in kids. This innovative practice has been successful in explaining the perils of unwashed hands to children and mothers since it has been rolled out in 2019.

Lesson

The primary lesson from this exercise is that the game recognises that adoption of handwashing practices requires more than just information. It requires visual demonstration of the problem in a tangible and impactful manner for both children and mothers. It uses the behavioural principle of making the problem vivid and salient to better health outcomes. This aids comprehension, which might lead to habit formation. As a health worker puts it, “Glitter game is simple enough for everyone to understand, and yet makes an otherwise intangible concept of germs come alive when it is framed through this game.”

Source : Stories of Change from India's Aspirational districts - NITI Aayog publication

Last Modified : 5/10/2022



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