Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

January 14, 2011

Say it with a postage stamp

Filed under: Advocacy,Handwashing — Anita Pradhan @ 12:30 pm

Hand washing with soap is possibly the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhoearal diseases. Yet tragically, 10,500 children under the age of five continue to die each year in Nepal. Despite its life saving potential, hand washing with soap is seldom practiced and not always easy to promote.

Could something as simple and small as a postage stamp help to promote this critical message?

Issued by the Department of Postal Service (DoPS), a new stamp carrying the slogan ‘let’s develop the habit of hand washing with soap’ was launched in Nepal two weeks ago.

Not only is this a first for Nepal; it’s the first stamp in the world to carry such a hygiene related message. It forms part of the ‘global hand-washing’ campaign, promoted in Nepal in November, and is designed to reinforce the call for improved hygiene practices across the country.

The level of recognition the hand washing message has achieved so far is evident by the support this new initiative has received from government ministers.

The stamp was approved by both the Minister of Tourism; Sharad Singh Bhandari, and the Minister for Information and Communications; Shankar Pokharel, who describes hand washing promotion as ‘part of the Government’s Commitment to improving the health of Nepal’.

The stamp was launched together with a second new stamp to promote Nepal Tourism Year 2011. Launching the two stamps side by side is somewhat strategic. Sharad Singh Bhandari, explains that the Year of Tourism has been launched to start an economic revolution in the country.

However, launching home-stay programmes without promoting the need for hygiene improvements would be a recipe for disaster. The idea is that launching the two messages simultaneously will help to ensure Nepal’s Year of Tourism is a success.

If the new stamp serves to reinforce the message about hand washing with soap in a way that spurs behavioural changes and contributes towards a reduction in child mortality, then, small as it is, it will prove itself to be a life saving intervention.

Written by Yvonne Struthers and Anita Pradhan, Documentation Manager, WaterAid in Nepal.

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