Mikono Misafi

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Around 2.6 billion people worldwide lack access to adequate sanitation and hygiene. 

Hand washing with soap shows the greatest reduction in diarrhea morbidity (over 40%), and can also reduce respiratory tract infection by about one third. 

Despite the cost effectiveness of hand washing with soap, and the fact that it is a relatively simple behavior, encouraging good hand washing practice remains a challenge.

This project aims to spread hand hygiene in rural Kenyan households by engaging local manufacturers. In this project, World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) supported preliminary consumer research and product design work for a new affordable hand washing station.

Inspiration and Method

In my role as the consulting Product Design Lead, I worked closely with WSP, leading the Human Centered Design (HCD) research process and provided advisory services and capacity development support to manufacturers through an iterative product design process.

The purpose of the user centered research and prototype testing was to gain in-depth insights into consumer needs and preferences, which informed the design of the new sanitary product.

Some of the specific methods and activities during this project include:

-Reviewing existing hand washing devices and literature,
-Leading and participating in qualitative HCD ‘deep dive’ field research into consumer needs and preferences,
-Synthesizing and analysing ‘deep dive’ research into a concise report and presentation on key market insights and related design principles and directions,
-Iterating product prototyping and design concepts,
-Developing finalized prototype(s),
-Preparing final project documentation,
-Providing technical guidance for production.


The Mrembo (Beautiful One) is a hand washing station which has been developed for use in rural Kenyan households. It will be manufactured by local Kenyan plastic manufacturers, and pilot tested on site in the near future. Mrembo will be the first industrially produced hand washing product in the Kenyan market. 

The mirror is incorporated not only for practical purposes but also for changing people's attitude towards hand sanitation by creating a grooming area for the users. The tap proposal aims to save water during soaping, and has two stages. In its usual stage, it only delivers water when pushed up and is closed by water pressure when released. For rinsing, its position can be fixed for constant flow until it is pulled down to shut off the water flow. Value adding features such as the sink, the water outlet, the filter and the soap dish are important touch points to maximize uptake of the product.