Commonwealth Alumnus Dr Evelyn Funjika, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Zambia, created a video to raise awareness around the importance of handwashing and the need to improve access to clean water for everyone. The key message in the video included sensitising local communities to wash their hands more frequently to reduce the burden of infectious diseases.

Headshot of Evelyn Funjika

In Zambia, according to the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 92% of the urban population had access to an improved water source, compared to only 58% of the rural population. In the same survey it was reported that 33% of the urban population had a fixed place for handwashing, compared to only 19% of the rural population.

Dr Funjika collaborated with fellow lecturer and researcher Dr Peter Cheuka, Jenala Chipungu, senior social behavioural researcher at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, Kanekwa Zyambo, a researcher at the Tropical gastroenterology and nutrition group, and George Kalaba, a research student pursuing an MSc in Chemistry at the University of Zambia.

The video aims to engage people who live or work in rural areas of Zambia where access to clean water is a challenge, by highlighting the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) principles and how to access alternative sources of clean, safe water for handwashing, no matter the location. The video encourages people to practice handwashing more frequently to avoid the risk of contracting infectious diseases. The video serves as a timely reminder of the importance of handwashing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Funjika received positive feedback from Zambia’s Ministry of Health on the content of her video and hopes this will pave the way for future collaboration between the University of Zambia and the government on improving access to clean water.

“I hope the video will inspire more people to think of ways to address the challenge of water accessibility. I hope there will be more collaboration with government and non-governmental organizations to implement sustainable water related projects in local communities and in busy public locations such as bus stations or markets.” Dr Evelyn Funjika

Dr Evelyn Funjika is a 2014 Commonwealth Scholar. She completed a PhD in Cell Matrix Research at the University of Manchester.

All Alumni Community Engagement Fund 2020-21 videos are available to watch on the CSC’s YouTube channel.