Tippy Tap: Low-tech hand washing facilities

Jackie Taylor

Jackie Taylor

Tippy Tap: Low-tech hand washing facilities

Tippy Taps ensures no one touches any tap since a water-filled container is tipped up to enable hand washing by using your foot to tilt the container. Soap is hung on a string next to the container

In my personal opinion the only positive to come out of the 2015 earthquakes was that many young people went into different villages around the country for the first time. They saw for themselves how people live in rural areas and hopefully came to realize how privileged they were in their homes in Kathmandu, Pokhara, etc. Where we stand now, it’s hard to see any positives from Covid-19 other than we all know how to wash our hands!

Flippant and ridiculous as it seems, earlier we did not know how to properly wash our hands despite our mothers telling us over and over.  And for decades now development organizations have been pushing hand washing as part as their water and sanitation (WASH) projects in villages and communities around the world. The biggest challenge is that water resources are often limited and most communities have shared water taps.

So it was with interest I learned of an innovative yet simple hand washing station which involves no touching of the water ‘tap’.

A few years ago I met Sonia JM when we both worked on the communications team for Jazzmandu. After a couple of years our paths diverged and it was only recently we bumped into each other again.  Sonia was excited to explain about a low-tech hand washing technique she had come across called Tippy Tap. In these days where washing our hands may save our lives, it seemed too good an idea not to share. 

Tippy Tap is particularly useful at community level where one central tap is used. What about using such a thing outside shops that are currently providing a bucket of water for hand washing before entering?  And when we emerge through this nightmare, it would be an excellent facility for village schools.

Sonia explains further: “I was looking through the Facebook page of a friend who works in Africa and came across Tippy Tap. Wow, I thought to myself. This technology would work so well here in Nepal.” Being that Tippy Taps have worked well at community level during epidemics, including the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and in school settings, Sonia says she was surprised they were not being promoted here. And decided to take matters into her own hands (no pun intended).

Just a week prior to the lockdown in Nepal Sonia installed two Tippy Tap washing stations in a project community she is working with through UNOPS HQ and rural based offices of the organization have also been encouraged to set up these washing stations and to promote them to the communities they are working with.  

So what exactly is this great low-tech washing station device?  [JT1] Tippy Taps ensures no one touches any tap since a water-filled container is tipped up to enable hand washing by using your foot to tilt the container.  Soap is hung on a string next to the container. You can even mix disinfectant directly into the water in the container. But Sonia stresses if this is done where children will use it, the soap on a rope is a better idea in case the kids try to drink the water.

Designed and initiated by WaterAid, you can follow the link below to get instructions on how to build a Tippy Tap—which I am told takes only about 30 minutes. Sonia points out that in the longer term “this can lead to long lasting behavioral change in hand washing hygiene and also demonstrate that low cost initiatives can really work. Saves water too!”

Download the super easy instructions from WaterAid here



 [JT1]I suggest you  put the pic Stepm 6 from the attached PDF here.