CHRISTENED the “chigubhu gear”, tip-taps have become a major tool in the fight against coronavirus, particularly at shopping centres in Makoni District where there is no running water. They are also popular at most rural homesteads. Tip-tap or two-can devices are seen outside most shops in the district. At Masvosva Shops, customers queue up at the tip-taps as they wait for their turn to wash their hands before entering the respective shops. Shop attendants refuse to attend to customers whose hands have not been washed.
Since most rural households do not have access to tapped running water, communities have devised a cheaper alternative. Home-made tip-taps are affordable, simple and easy to use.
Ms Chipo Mafume a shop attendant at Masvosva Shops, said while shops in urban areas can afford to sanitise their customers’ hands at the entrances, hand washing is a cheaper alternative for them.
She said the tip-taps are helping in the fight against Covid-19, adding that hand-washing is compulsory for customers.
“It is easy for customers to wash their hands on the tip-taps that are strategically placed just outside the shops. From inside the shop, I can see the tip-tap and every customer before they get in. When one tries to enter the shop before washing their hands, I remind them to do so.
“We are doing this because it is everyone’s responsibility to fight the virus. Covid-19 does not know one’s location and everyone is prone to it, be in an urban or rural set-up,” said Ms Mafume.
Shopkeeper Mr Langton Masvosva said: “We have been raising awareness on hand-washing and the message is spreading very well. When our customers go back home, they also encourage their families and neighbours to constantly wash their hands.
“The most interesting part is that tip-taps are easy to make and use, even a primary school learner can make one. Villagers now have them at their homes,” said Mr Masvosva
A development partner — Developmental Aid from People to People (DAPP) — has been training the villagers on how to make tip-taps. They have also been raising awareness on the importance of hand-washing.
Mr Tendai Nyanhongo, DAPP’S field officer, said tip-taps are better than ordinary water taps as one does not need to touch them to access water.
“When opening and closing ordinary taps, there is the risk of collecting germs. When it comes to the chigubhu gear, you do not have to touch the tap, you just step on the lever and the water comes out. You wash off the germs or virus and you are good to go,” he said.
Mr Nyanhongo said all that is required to make a tip-tap is a clean and transparent plastic container, two wooden sticks, a string and a lever. The wooden sticks are planted into the ground to hold the device up while the string connects the water container to the lever that one steps on to tilt the container.
When it was first introduced in Zimbabwe some few years ago, the tip-tap device was adopted as an affordable means of practising basic hygiene and sanitation.