Behaviour change is indispensable part of successful sanitation and hygiene, rural water supply and capacity development activities. In addition to sufficient WASH (water supply, sanitation & hygiene) facilities, it is necessary to have true behavior change in use of toilet, hygiene practices, management of water supply schemes and giving opportunities for everybody to participate.
Often the communication in WASH activities focuses on giving information on health benefits or setting rules. However, it may not be sufficient motivating factor for all to change their behavior. Therefore deeper analysis is required. The communication materials should reflect the target group, and the messages should utilize argumentation that truly motivates people for behaviour change. In other words, how do we wrap the key messages specifically for each target group?
Recently, our project team has been developing the behaviour change communication strategy for construction and use of toilets. Firstly we defined clearly the target behaviours we want to address. Secondly, we discussed who the critical target groups are, keeping in mind the chosen behaviours. Thirdly, we analysed the potential barriers and drivers for the target groups to change their behavior. Fourthly, we developed some key messages to each target group based on their barriers and drivers. Finally, we selected the communication strategies and identified tools to communicate effectively.
Photo: Hoarding board in local language to motivate people to avoid open defecation in Open Defecation Free (ODF) area, Abhirawa VDC, Kapilvastu District
In addition to sanitation and hygiene, behaviour change communication can be applied for motivating people to operate and maintain water supply schemes. We are continuously facing the problem of non-functional rural water supply schemes. It is crucial to motivate people to improve their behavior related to long-term operation and maintenance of the schemes. Of course, some functionality issues may be purely technical or not directly related to behavior, but not all problems are such. Poor mobilization of community, weak transparency of scheme management and finance, and lack of motivation to pay for water service are for example issues having behavioral dimension. In this regard, it would be beneficial to include more strategic behavior change communication in planning, construction and management of water supply schemes.
Behavior change communication is needed in improving participation of all. Women, differently abled people and disadvantaged groups should be participated throughout the planning and implementation of WASH activities in communities. Meaningful participation is hampered if opportunity for participation is not given to all or it is not used by all. Behavior change communication tools could be applied to overcome this type of problems. In addition to the rules on how many women or disadvantaged there should be in the meeting or committees, it is necessary to develop motivational messages based on the barriers and drivers of target groups. Behaviour change communication can be used to explore ways to improve meaningful participation. Let us apply behavior change communication (BCC) in all our sanitation and hygiene, rural water supply and capacity development activities. Let us analyze all our WASH work through the BCC approach.
About the author: The author has been working in Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project in Western Nepal (RWSSP-WN) since August 2012. His tenure as M&E and Institutional Development Specialist at RWSSP-WN II ended in April 2016.
With this blog text he would like to thank all stakeholders, staff and communities for good cooperation and wish successful continuation of WASH work in Western Nepal.
Photo: People following the Open Defecation Free Declaration programme in Pang VDC, Rolpa District.