Community-Driven Handwashing Stations in Response to COVID-19

Indonesia confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 on 2 March 2020, when a dance instructor and her mother tested positive after arriving from Japan. The country encountered significant difficulties in containing the virus due to its large population, high population density in specific regions, and limited healthcare resources in certain areas. Consequently, by 9 April 2020, the pandemic had reached all 34 provinces in Indonesia. As of 5 June 2023, Indonesia has reported 6,812,127 COVID-19 cases, the second highest in Southeast Asia. Regarding fatalities, Indonesia ranks second in Asia and ninth globally, with 161,879 deaths recorded.

The government has implemented several efforts to stop the spread of the virus. These efforts included vaccination, social distancing protocols, restrictions on mass gatherings, mandatory mask-wearing in public places, periodic lockdowns in some regions with infection rates, and raising the awareness of washing hands frequently with soap and running water. 

According to COVID-19 Hotline Indonesia, washing the hands frequently with soap and running water is the best way to protect from the virus. Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Indonesia (now OpenStreetMap Indonesia Association or POI) collaborated with the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to map handwashing stations in Indonesia. This effort is also related to the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) and Regional Agency for Disaster Management (BPBD) efforts against COVID-19. 

The Interface Display of the Handwashing Station Map in Ushahidi

Participatory Mapping of Handwashing Stations

Handwashing is a crucial and effective effort in combating the spread of COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, primarily spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people or inhale into the lungs. Additionally, the virus can spread by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the face, especially the eyes, nose, or mouth. 

Global health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend frequent handwashing with soap and water or using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content. However, practicing proper hand hygiene away from home presents difficulties for numerous individuals. Hence, knowing the exact location of handwashing stations outside the house will play a crucial role in maintaining hygiene, as people can stay close to the handwashing station to keep their hands clean. Thus, an interactive web map will benefit anybody outside the house who maintains hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the information regarding the locations of hand-wash mapping stations could have been more present. Community members urgently needed a quick hand mapping station to deploy a web map swiftly. To address this challenge, Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) joined forces with the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to create a comprehensive map of handwashing stations in Jakarta. The collaboration involved active engagement with local communities, urging them to participate in the mapping process by identifying hand-washing stations in their residential areas or any they encountered. POI and PDC facilitated this engagement through a social media campaign and a tutorial on contributing to the project through the Ushahidi platform.

Ushahidi, an open-source software application utilizing user-generated reports for data collation and mapping, was the perfect tool for crowdsourcing data collection. Its user-friendly interface allowed anyone to collect information about hand-washing stations without account registration. Alongside station locations, POI designed a form on Ushahidi that requested contributors to provide additional details such as the type of hand-washing station (portable or permanent), station photos, and water resources available. For confidentiality, personal information submitted by contributors was visible only to themselves and the admin, ensuring data accuracy.

The Interface Display of the Handwashing Station Map in Ushahidi

Contrasting traditional mapping methods conducted by external experts, participatory mapping granted community members, possessing intimate knowledge of the area, an active role in the process. This approach has effectively supported community-driven initiatives, making it a valuable asset in this mapping endeavor. Nevertheless, many argue about the accuracy of crowdsourcing data.

Once the contributors submitted the handwashing station information to ensure data quality before displaying it on the web map, POI’s reviewer team diligently reviewed the data. Given the nature of crowdsourced data, this review process was imperative, where accuracy may be questionable.

As part of the participatory mapping engagement strategies, POI involved multiple stakeholders in identifying resources and perspectives. POI then sought additional information on handwashing stations from other organizations. For this purpose, POI collaborated with PAM Jaya, a water company, to gather data on Jakarta stations and surrounding areas. Additionally, POI integrated data from the USAID IUWASH PLUS program, a five-year initiative to enhance water supply and sanitation services. Moreover, a dataset of handwashing stations was collected through a collaboration program with USAID and UNICEF named Hand Washing with Soap (HWWS). Once these datasets were collected successfully, POI deployed them on the Handwashing Stations Map using the Ushahidi platform.

Handwashing Stations Mapping Process

Impact of Handwashing Station Map

In just ten months, the collaborative efforts of Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI) and its partners have yielded remarkable results in mapping handwashing stations through the Ushahidi platform. A staggering 2,170 handwashing stations have been successfully mapped, making this initiative a resounding success as shown on the website

Handwash Stations Contributors Percentage

The contributions of passionate individuals cannot be overlooked, as these dedicated contributors meticulously mapped 1,451 handwashing stations. Additionally, valuable data on 153 stations were imported from PAM Jaya, 290 from the IUWASH PLUS Project, and 276 from the USAID – UNICEF HWWS collaboration. The collective efforts of various stakeholders have enriched the Handwashing Stations Map, providing the public with crucial information to protect themselves during the pandemic.

Examples of Permanent Handwashing Station (right) and Portable Handwashing Station (left)

Crucially, all this information is freely accessible to the public, aligning perfectly with POI’s mission to promote the utilization of open geospatial data. The stakeholder and community members can download and utilize the hand-washing station data for various purposes, contributing to the wider goal of safeguarding public health.

The staggering number of handwashing stations collected in this project demonstrates a profound public awareness of the pandemic’s seriousness and the vital role that handwashing plays in preventing virus transmission. The following chart presents a representation of the leading ten locations for handwashing stations on the map outside Jabodetabek, with Surakarta, Semarang, and Surabaya occupying the top three positions. The data indicates that urban areas boast the highest number of handwashing stations on the map, which aligns with the fact that COVID-19 cases are also prevalent in urban regions.

Geochart of Handwashing Stations Map

The Ushahidi platform also has proven invaluable in mapping handwash stations and empowering individuals to make conscious decisions about hand hygiene. By locating the nearest handwashing stations, people can reinforce their commitment to regular handwashing, even outside their homes.

In conclusion, this collaborative endeavor by POI and its partners and contributors is a testament to the power of technology, community engagement, and participatory mapping. The Handwashing Stations Map is a valuable resource, inspiring individuals to take proactive steps in safeguarding their health and that of their communities. As we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, this innovative initiative serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that we can make a tangible difference in combating global health crises. Let us build on this success and continue to leverage technology and community-driven efforts for a healthier, safer world.

Accessible, Quality, Open Geospatial Data for All