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Tapping into potential

Written by Tearfund | 30 Apr 2020

Washing hands is vital to stop the spread of illnesses and diseases such as diarrhoea and the coronavirus. But what happens when you’re not able to do this at home?

In many of the countries where Tearfund is working, the nearest source of water can be miles away. The routes are often dangerous – especially for women and children. The water unclean.

Many households will not have safe places to store the water they collect, which not only causes further contamination but means multiple trips are needed. And because of the lack of accessible water, hand washing practices can be almost nonexistent.

But this is beginning to change. Communities are becoming empowered to turn their skills to creating new taps for their homes. And it’s making all the difference.

Enter the Tippy Tap
The Tippy Tap is cheap, easy to construct and can be made with locally-sourced materials. All that’s needed to create one is several sticks, string, soap and a container for the water. The device is then simply operated with a foot lever, which significantly reduces the chance for diseases to be spread as the user only touches a bar of soap, supported by a string.

Tippy Taps don’t just improve people’s access to clean water, they empower people to build, maintain and use the taps. People have a sense of ownership over them which means that they won’t fall into disrepair.

Tippy Taps are being used around the world to improve people's access to water and promote good hygiene practices. Credit: Tom Price/Tearfund and Edward Woods/Tearfund

These clever taps are being effectively used around the world in developing countries – outside homes, schools and toilets – to promote good hygiene practices. Tearfund and our local partners have been teaching communities how to build and use them.

‘Tippy Taps are very helpful for the rural communities in Haiti due to the fact that water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructures are very poor, almost nonexistent in these areas,’ says Marc Romyr Antoine, who leads Tearfund’s work in Haiti.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world with 84 per cent of people living in poverty. Waterborne diseases, such as cholera, are rife.

Safer for everyone
‘Tippy Taps serve as a physical reminder to constantly wash hands which can be overlooked, especially in homes and communities with no infrastructure for running water,’ says Marc Romry Antoine.

A simple reminder, but one that makes a home safer for everyone. Especially for young children.

The second biggest cause of death worldwide for children under five is diarrhoea. It is both preventable and treatable. Safe drinking-water, good sanitation and hand washing with soap significantly reduce the risk of catching this.

There are new threats too. The coronavirus is beginning to hit some of the poorest countries. But the work that Tearfund and our local partners have spent decades doing – providing communities with access to safe water and promoting good hygiene – means that we are well established to help communities limit the spread of this deadly virus.

‘Tearfund and our partners are doing door-to-door awareness raising for families,’ says Marc Romyr Antoine. ‘We are giving them the basic information on COVID-19, signs and symptoms to be aware of, and advice – such as handwashing with soap. For these households who receive the awareness, they also receive support to construct a Tippy Tap in their home.’

This is work we’re doing globally to support the most vulnerable people. Tearfund’s links with a network of 15,000 local churches around the world mean we can reach even the most remote areas with lifesaving public health messages.

Clean water is a human right
One of Tearfund’s main priorities is to improve people’s access to clean water. Around the world, 844 million people still do not have access to this basic human necessity. Having fresh water and good sanitation is at the very heart of escaping poverty. Change someone’s access to these and you transform their whole life.

It is an injustice that millions of people around the world do not have access to clean water. We are determined to change that.


  • From drinking to washing, take a moment where you are to reflect with God on the different ways you use clean water throughout your day. How it makes your life simpler. And safer. Give thanks to God for this resource.
  • Lift up to God people around the world who do not have access to clean water. Pray they will be kept safe from illness and disease, and for swift solutions to be found so that they can overcome poverty.
  • Thank God for how Tippy Taps are being used to promote good hygiene around the world. Pray that Tearfund and our partners will be able to reach people in need to share with them how to build and use these to protect their families from diseases.

Tearfund works in more than 50 countries and we are doing all we can to stand with the most vulnerable people at this time. If you feel led to support this vital work, please click here to give.

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Written by  Tearfund

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