Indian cricket icon, Sachin Tendulkar, who is also a Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), awarded certificates and prizes, USD 5000 each for the winners of wash innovation challenge in Thimphu yesterday.

Tendulkar said that learning about new and innovative ideas to support handwashing with soap in South Asia was meaningful. “Many children I met and played cricket with have promised me that they will become ambassadors for handwashing and also spread this important message to their families and friends,” he said.

The goodwill ambassador also met with the chief advisor to the interim government, students and parents in Zilukha Middle Secondary School, and played cricket with young cricketers from the national team.

In the finals of wash innovation challenge yesterday, a device called Clean Churi made from traditional bracelets, commonly worn by women in South Asia won the innovative behaviour change category.

The device was developed by a team from Bangladesh to enable behavioural change among caregivers to wash hands properly. The device jingles, reminding mothers to wash hands before cooking, after feeding children, and after using toilets.

A team from Pakistan designed a prototype called Wottle, a multipurpose water bottle that enables easy and convenient handwashing during critical times for the caregivers. The innovative device is portable for handwashing with soaps.

The only innovative ideas from Pakistan pitched at the finals of wash innovation challenge won the appropriate technology category yesterday. The idea was aimed to provide solutions that would effectively improve the hand washing behaviour.

Bangladesh presented the maximum number of ideas in the finals of the challenge held in Thimphu.

The only idea to be presented from the host country was the barrel hand washing station that gave a tight contest in the innovative systems to sustainably monitor hand-washing category. However, Easy Wash team from Bangladesh won the category.

The barrel handwashing station was highly recommended by the jury.

The innovation was developed to monitor whether handwashing with soap was practiced or not. The monitoring system keeps the track of how often students wash their hands.

Twelve ideas from South Asia qualified to be presented at the finals.

The innovation wash challenge received about 800 ideas from eight South Asian nations to participate in the creative campaigns initiated by UNICEF and Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) to encourage hand washing properly.

The campaign was launched on October 15, coinciding with the global handwashing day with an objective to curb the increasing rate of child mortality rate due to preventable diseases.

A press release from UNICEF Bhutan stated that the handwashing with soap was an excellent way for families to protect their children from diseases that are potentially life threatening.

“Study has shown that proper hand washing reduced the risk of diarrhea by 42 to 47 percent, and acute respiratory infection in children under the age of five years by half,” the press release stated.

Senior Director at BRAC, Asif Saleh, said that innovation in this part of the world was not necessarily about just creating a product. “It is often coming up with simple solutions that can be scaled up. We hope these innovative solutions from young social entrepreneurs will provide a boost towards our efforts to improve people’s well-being through better hygiene.”