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Children in India break world handwashing record

On Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, school children in India broke the record for the most children washing their hands in one hour.

Global Handwashing Day

15 Oct 2014

The Madhya Pradesh water, sanitation and hygiene (MPWASH) programme aims to improve access to clean water, sanitation, hygiene, health and nutrition in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

On Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, between 11am and 12pm, MPWASH brought together children from 20,000 schools across Madhya Pradesh to help to break the Guinness World Record for the most children washing their hands in one hour.

More than two million school children were expected to take part in the huge event, which 40,000 teachers helped to organise. According to Guinness, previously the most people washing their hands in several locations was 740,870, which was in an event organised by the Pan American Health Organization.

Global Handwashing Day is a campaign to motivate and mobilise millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. It is an important event in the WaterAid calendar because proper handwashing and hygiene are crucial to prevent disease and illness. An estimated 600,000 children's lives could be saved every year if all children could wash their hands with soap and water after going to the toilet.

The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan, launched the challenge at the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Habibia, Bhopal, joined by many local and government dignitaries. The Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues emphasised the importance of cleanliness and good hygiene practices such as handwashing.

Neeraj Jain, Chief Executive of WaterAid India, said: “Hygiene education is a cornerstone of WaterAid’s work in India. Through the massive Global Handwashing Day record attempt in Madhya Pradesh, we are hoping to inculcate handwashing in children as a good habit to prevent communicable diseases, so that they in turn can influence their family and friends. Hygiene education is also the critical lever to push behaviour change on sanitation. We are also happy to be supporting the Madhya Pradesh state government in this great awareness initiative.”