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Hand Washing With Ananse

December 08, 2015

By Engagement Lab (Roma Dash)


Hand washing with soap and water (HWWS) has been shown to significantly reduce the rate of diarrhea and pneumonia in children. It is, however, a practice that is carried out in less than 1 in 8 Ghanaian households. The Engagement Lab has collaborated with UNICEF Ghana and Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre to design a game that changes behavior and encourages Ghanaian school children to HWWS.

The game is called Handwashing with Ananse, and it takes the form of an interactive storybook. “Each chapter teaches a different thing,” says Wade Kimbrough, game designer and researcher, “why to handwash with soap…how to handwash with soap and water, and when to.” The game is based on the Ghanaian character Ananse, whose stories have been traditionally used to impart social, cultural, and moral knowledge. The focus here is to use storytelling, song, dance, and structured play to change perceptions about HWWS and to create sustained HWWS habits.

By making use of a fun-filled way to integrate these habits — and by including a local folktale character, which will resonate well with them — Handwashing with Ananse aims to positively reinforce hygiene-related practices in kids, and to help eradicate diseases.

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