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Field Ready wins international award for Surprise Soaps

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Helping kids practice good hand hygiene has won us some global recognition.

Field Ready won a 2020 Honey Bee Network Creativity and Inclusive Innovation Award (HBNCRIIA) last month for our Surprise Soaps. The awards - sponsored by the Honey Bee Network, India's Grassroots Innovation and Augmentation Network (GIAN) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) - are given to the most promising inclusive innovations from around the world. The 2020 award ceremony was held virtually this year in India, where HBN is headquartered. It had been postponed until after lockdowns in multiple countries had been lifted.

This year's winners - culled from 2,500 entries from 87 countries - included 10 from HBN's International category, four from its "Coping With COVID-19" response category and four from its "Appreciation" category. Our Surprise Soaps won in the "Coping With COVID-19" category.

Surprise Soaps - small soaps for children with a plastic toy inside - encourage children to wash their hands often. The more children wash their hands, the quicker they're rewarded with the toy - and the healthier they make their communities.

Handwashing is known to be one of the best and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease transmission. In disaster- and conflict-affected settings where people have been forced to flee or shelter in dirty conditions, people are especially vulnerable to death and illness caused by poor hygiene. Better hygiene can help change that.

Surprise Soap isn't only used to improve hygiene, however - production of the soaps also encourage local economic growth. The toys for the soaps are 3D-printed in local makerspaces, and local manufacturers then produce the soaps themselves. They can be made to scale; small refugee groups have made the soaps to sell to NGOs, and larger groups such as Iraq's Makers HIVE have made 12,000 of the soaps to give to schoolchildren.

Our soaps were nominated last year by members of the UNDP's Accelerator Lab in Baghdad after we'd helped produce them or trained others to produce them for several programs in Iraq.

All the entries were judged by a 12-member jury comprised of scientists, academics, industry leaders and researchers from around the world. Entries included devices, programs and improvements for sanitation, environmental care, agriculture, food and agro-processing, COVID-19 response, safety and quality-of-life issues. The biennial competition is organized by GIAN, HBN and other collaborators to foster creative & innovative ideas or traditional knowledge practices that solve day-to-day problems faced by communities or the environment. With nominations accepted from either individuals or organizations, the awards spotlight grassroots, inclusive innovations that address unmet social needs.

The award underscores the wide application of the Surprise Soaps, noted Field Ready Executive Director Eric James.

"This is a really strong endorsement of the work we do to make critical items where and when they're needed," James said. "We're very honored and pleased to be recognized for our efforts to improve hygiene in challenging environments during the pandemic."

We're grateful for the honor, and we're continuing to expand our Surprise Soap outreach; currently, we're training people in four countries how to make and scale the soaps as part of our "Protecting the Frontline" COVID-19 response program. Check back for updates - and #WashYourHands!


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