Salesians Highlight Programs Promoting Hand Washing in Africa Ahead of Global Event

Logo for the 2020 Global Handwashing Day.
Credit: Public Domain

Ahead of the Global Handwashing Day (GHD) set to be marked in the context of COVID-19 on October 15, Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) has highlighted programs promoting good hygiene practices around the globe, including Africa.

In a report shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, October 7, the leadership of the U.S-based agency highlights the programs that have seen the provision of clean water and the fostering of good hygiene practices in the African countries of Ethiopia, Mali, and Burundi.

“Working and living in the communities they serve, Salesian missionaries are perfectly positioned to ensure that soap and other hygiene items reach those who need it most,” the leadership of Salesian Missions says in the report and adds, “Accompanying education ensures that recipients learn the importance of proper hygiene for good health.”

In Ethiopia, Don Bosco Center in Mekanissa, an area on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, is supplying water to thousands of deprived people living in neighboring slums of Koshe and Kore, Salesian Missions leadership says in the October 7 report.

Through support from the Planning and Development Office of the agency, SDB Missionaries serving at the center repaired a 5,000-litre capacity old truck and a reservoir tank that they use to supply water daily to the people of Koshe and Kore, the report indicates.

In the West African nation of Mali, officials of the New York-based SDB development agency have facilitated the installation of hand-washing stations in Salesian educational centers in Bamako, Sikasso and Touba, where educational activities have resumed amid COVID-19.

“Salesian missionaries are well aware of the risks Mali faces during the pandemic, and they are working to protect and support youth and the most vulnerable families in their programs and communities,” the leadership of Salesian Missions has reported.

Cognizant of the risks, SDB Missionaries in the landlocked country consider the creation of a culture of personal hygiene and careful handwashing as one of the “most important prevention measures.”

Towards ensuring that members of local communities practice good hygiene, Fr. Romeo Salami from the Salesian Planning and Development Office of the SDB West Africa Province is working to ensure local programs have what they need to provide a safe environment for youth.

“The installation of hand-washing devices in our vocational training centers in Bamako, Sikasso and Touba guarantees the continued education of the most vulnerable,” Salesian Fr. Romeo has been quoted as saying in the report shared with ACI Africa.

He also thanks all of the people who collaborated in the “Faced with the pandemic, Global Solidarity” project, which raised funds to help these efforts.

Meanwhile, in Burundi, Salesian Missions officials have facilitated the installation of handwashing stations in eight church premises, 15 schools and the Don Bosco Oratory at Salesian Parish in Rukago, benefitting an estimated 65,000 people. 

“Installing hand-washing stations in front of churches, offices, schools and playgrounds is an effective means of fighting the coronavirus pandemic while giving the local population the hope of living,” the bursar of the Salesian Community in Rukago, Fr. Raphaël Katanga has been quoted as saying in the report.

He adds, “With the funding, we have also supported some vulnerable families from a local indigenous group, who were at risk of facing food shortage due to the limited circulation of goods and people.”

“Clean, safe water, access to soap, and programs teaching about good hygiene, like proper handwashing, are important now more than ever,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek has been quoted as saying in the October 7 report.

Established in 2008 by Global Hand Washing Partnership (GHP), GHD is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of the washing of hands with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark reminder that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of a virus is also one of the simplest: hand hygiene, especially through hand washing with soap,” the leadership of GHP says.

The entity adds, “To beat the virus today and ensure better health outcomes beyond the pandemic, hand washing with soap must be a priority now and in the future.”

To be marked under the theme “Hand Hygiene for All” on October 15, GHD 2020 is a call for all members of society across the globe to achieve hand hygiene.


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]