School children attempt to break world record on handwashing

This Wednesday, 15 October, schoolchildren across the state of Madhya Pradesh will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most number of people washing their hands to mark World Handwashing Day.

Washing hands with soap is a basic but important way to help maintain good health and prevent the spread of infection. In India, where nearly half the population practises open defecation, it is even more critical, to counteract the spread of dangerous pathogens that are contained in faeces.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, earlier this month launched his Clean India campaign (Swachh Bharat Mission) in which he pledged to bring every household a toilet by 2019, to mark the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth. But building toilets alone isn’t enough: everyone in a community must use toilets and everyone must wash hands properly with soap afterwards, to stop the spread of infection.

On Wednesday 15 October, more than 2 million schoolchildren will wash their hands in the hour between 11 am and 12 noon across 20,000 locations in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The attempt is organised by the Madhya Pradesh State Government with the support of WaterAid’s MPWASH programme, a high-profile programme focused on rural sanitation and health in the state. According to Guinness, the existing record for the most people washing their hands in multiple locations was 740,870, in an event organised by the Pan American Health Organization in multiple venues in Argentina, Mexico and Peru on 14 October 2011.

Join WaterAid India as we help organise this record-breaking effort on Wednesday morning at a school in the state capital, Bhopal.

Toilet Facts

44 per cent of the total population in India still defecate in the open.

Open defecation causes chronic diarrhoea that leads to stunting.