Lebanon 26 October 2016-- UN-Habitat working in partnership with UNICEF raised awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap through entertaining advocacy events which targeted 850 children of different ages from the hosting communities and the Syrian Refugees.in Lebanon.

In coordination with Clown Me In, a professional and enthusiastic team, children learned about the importance of washing their hands in fun and interactive clown shows. Clown Me In is a clown theatre company that specializes in bringing theatre to vulnerable populations, and focusing on art as a means of expression.

In their interactive show, they brought up children to participate in the performances, practice washing their hands, and sing along to a song written specifically for Handwashing Day. As Fatima Kazoun, Community Mobilizer at the Bekaa Regional Technical Office, said, “The idea is for the children to learn about hygiene and how hands carry bacteria so it’s important to wash them…they love the show and they learn at the same time.” Following the clown performance, children were given handwashing kits which included a hand towel, soap, and an educational kit to take home with them.

The events were held in four locations: Bwarej- Bekaa, Jib Jinnine-Bekaa, Jazirat Abd El Wehab-Tripoli and Loubieh-Sahel Zahrani. The Handwashing events were planned in collaboration with Union of Municipalities of Bekaa ElAwsat, El Buhayra, and Sahel Zahrani, and the Municipality of Tripoli

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually on October 15 throughout the world. The purpose of the day is to improve habits and increase understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy and affordable way to prevent diseases, infections and save lives.

As UNICEF’s figures point out, in 2015 more than 300,000 children under the age of five died globally from diarrhoeal infections linked to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation – a rate of more than 800 per day. Yet many of these deaths could have been prevented through the simple act of handwashing with soap.

“Every year, 1.4 million children are dying from largely preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s Global Head of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. “These are staggering numbers, but they could be greatly reduced by working with children and families to adopt a very straightforward solution – handwashing. We know, for example, that handwashing with soap before meals and after using the toilet could reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal infections by 40 per cent.”

This year, over 200 million people are involved in Global Handwashing Day celebrations in over 100 countries around the world.

Since 2014, with support from UNICEF, UN-Habitat was able to spread the word about Handwashing and 5,000 people were involved in celebration and were endorsed by the Union of municipalities, municipalities, NGO’s, schools, scouts, and social development centres.