Handwashing with soap consumption - a consumer insight


“Wow! I need this handwashing station, please will you sell it to me”, exclaimed Mr Simuyota Simatoni from Shemu village.

Like many of his peers Mr Simuyota was admiring the diverse sanitation and hygiene designs presented by SNV and its district partners. As these designs were being presented to local sanitation entrepreneurs at the Shemu Health Centre in Zambia, the crowd of onlookers multiplied in size at the sight of never-before-seen handwashing facility designs. Whilst groups of people came and left, Mr. Simuyota was among a handful of onlookers that decided to stay for the entire presentation and hygiene training.

As I began introducing one of the handwashing with soap stations (HWWS), Mr Simuyota jumped out of the crowd and with great determination exclaimed “This is beautiful. I will hold onto this one and purchase it after these activities”!

Local sanitation entrepreneur training session

The kokola: a handwashing innovation that is worth the wait

Introducing the kokola

The ‘kokola’ (longer lasting) handwashing station with soap (HWWS) is an innovative product that was developed under the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All Results Programme (SSH4A RP) initiative. The station is made of metal (for durability), and it has a coat of paint to reduce rusting.

At the front of the station is a soap container, reminding users to use soap when handwashing. The cylinder device is covered with a top lid, which slides open and close, and has a tap at the bottom for water to pass through.

The kokola’s design was informed by one year of sanitation and hygiene research on durable, portable, acceptable, yet affordable HWWS technologies. During the research period, sanitation marketing teams from Muchinga and the Northern Province of Zambia explored prototypes of HWWS stations, until the final products were created. From this research, three variants were developed to reach different levels of consumers.

Testing the weight and durability of the kokola

Why the kokola?

Like many rural households in Zambia, Mr Simuyota has been using a tippy-tap, which was introduced by earlier Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) initiatives. “It is my nephew who picked up this technology from school”, Mr Simuyota explained. It is what most households are using in the villages these days”, he continued. However as experience would show, challenges associated to assembling, using and maintaining tippy-taps are plenty. “The biggest challenge is that it is not easy to use the tippy-tap… you see, I have a big family, with the majority being children”.

Some disadvantages to using a tippy-tap include:

  • the thread used to tilt the tippy-tap tears away easily and has to be replaced frequently;
  • the logs erected to support the facility are often eaten away by termites, and some have broken while in use;
  • its water container is exposed to direct sunlight, and as a consequence reduces the longevity of the station due to increased wear and tear; and
  • it is susceptible to domesticated animal interference, such as goats and pigs.

Inspiration behind sanitation marketing

Behavioural change and sustaining positive behaviours take time. What I find most inspiring about my encounter with Mr Simuyota, is that “instant buy-in” is possible. Mr Simuyota’s enthusiasm also encouraged the local sanitation marketing team to target households in Shemu with similar profiles to Mr Simuyota in order to tap into a potential kokola market.

Local sanitation marketing agents are now excited with the growing numbers of pre-sale orders, and as an SNV staff member, there is no greater inspiration than seeing first-hand the viability of our sanitation and hygiene marketing approaches.