• Field Ready

Interactive Product Design and Prototyping Workshop in Iraq Stage: 1


Will having a toy inside a soap help encourage children to wash their hands?

Instinctively, it may seem a likely hit but a great on paper can fail when it's tried the real world. Careful planning and on-the-ground testing are essential. With a small grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, Field Ready joined forces with Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), to measure actual impact in a trial in a camp for displaced persons in Northern Iraq.

Diseases such as diarrhea can cause up to 40% of deaths in acute emergencies. Research indicates that washing with soap can reduce the transmission of infectious diseases by up to 48% and it is surely one of the most cost effective of all public health interventions.

However, it has been observed that even when soap and water is present in people's homes it is not used, particularly by children, who are also the ones that carry the greatest risk of disease. It has also been found in multiple settings that incentivizing behavioral change through engaging activities is more effective than health warnings alone.

The 'surprising soap' aims to create excitement and motivation for children to wash their hands with soap, as the more they wash, the quicker they get the toy. There should be a range of toys present inside the soaps, so momentum is continued as the children want to collect the set (as with Kinder Eggs or Happy Meals).

Field Ready's expertise in community-led product design and development allowed us to create custom toys and soaps to meet the interests of the children in the target population. There were three days of workshops and we had 14 delightful mini-designers help us create the perfect toy-soap combinations!

Day 1: Prior to the first day of the workshop our Iraqi engineer carried out interviews with children, caregivers and local shopkeepers to identify favorite themes. Based on this we selected an initial set of toy designs from dolls, to vehicles to animals, which were 3D printed in Dohuk. On the first day, after an initial game of musical chairs to get warmed up, the children broke up into groups of 7 girls and 7 boys and took turns to give feedback on the 3D printed toys and on the examples of transparent soap we had brought with us.

They then were given play-dough to create whatever they imagined, both as an incentive to return, and to allow us to see their unfiltered ideas.

From this session it was clear that animals, including cartoonish dinosaurs, were a winner across both genders, as were colors like red, purple and green. We decided it would make sense to concentrate on a gender-neutral selection to avoid adding logistical burdens to emergency distribution coordinators, retailers and caregivers.

Day 2: Prior to this session we downloaded a large number of toy designs that fit our fun, animal criteria. After a playful ball game which involved calling out your favorite color, in small groups, this time of mixed gender, we showed the children around 30 designs and got feedback on their favorites. We asked them to pick their 5 favorite animals and place tokens on a print out of the toy in the color they thought it should be.

Finally, we showed the children a couple of examples of the transparent soaps melted down and remolded with a toy inside – their feedback was positive, with a comment that one of the combinations didn't smell good!

From this session there were clear favorites among the toys, and some colors more preferred, but a lot of variety in which animal should be which color - which gives us scope to produce a varied range for the children to collect.

Day 3: Some final feedback on the prints of chosen toys in favorite colors, and a chance to play with the soap examples, which mixed different colors and scents to eliminate any the children didn't like.

And finally juice and biscuits, and a tub of play-dough to take home so they can continue to make their own creations!

On to production!

#WASH #Workshop #Iraq #Refugee #SoapMaking

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Field Ready is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. We aim to meet humanitarian need by transforming logistics through technology, innovative design and engaging people in new ways. We do this by working with a variety of partners and helping to build people's resilience. We are a charity registered in a number of countries. In the US, as a 501c3, gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations.   

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