Diarrhea remains the world’s second leading cause of death and it is often caused by poor sanitation and hygiene. Community-driven behavior change is an appropriate tool to change the behavior of rural communities in a sustainable manner. Improving hardware hygiene helps to change also human behavior. When it comes to washing and storing utensils, it is important to protect them from contamination such as dust and animals – a practice that has not existed in rural villages. Traditionally people in rural communities have not paid much attention to the hygiene aspect of storing utensils. After raising awareness and creating demand, communities have started to dry and store utensils on drying racks.
In the program districts of RWSSP-WN II, the project team encourages the communities to store wet utensils after washing in a safe and hygienic manner. As a consequence, people discuss about different options and select an appropriate model which can be constructed, handled and maintained by themselves. Some people prefer to construct the rack inside their kitchen and some prefer to construct it outside their houses. When people are told about the merits of drying racks they are mostly willing to construct one for themselves. Most of the drying racks are constructed using local knowledge and materials. Here are examples of some drying rack models made by rural people that show how the racks can be constructed in many different ways.
Examples of typical drying racks
Drying rack of this picture is constructed inside of a traditional house which is a rare case in the villages. This drying rack is located nearby the kitchen with a washing platform and a tap. The owners have also constructed a small altar in the drying rack. The altar guides people to put only clean utensils on the rack as nobody would put a dirty pot in the same line with God and Goddess. Appropriate rituals can be applied to promote sanitation and hygiene.
Drying rack of this picture is designed to be movable because the owners are busy and have no time to stay at home until the utensils are dry. Since the owners go out for work and there is no one in the house during daytime, someone could steal the utensils from a rack. Moreover, this kind of rack can be shifted from one place to another where there is sunlight in order to make the utensils dry faster. In these conditions, this traditional basket (tonjyang in Nepali language) makes an appropriate drying rack.
Drying rack of this picture is the most common type seen in the villages. It is easy enough to construct using available local materials even by unskilled people. People use these kinds of drying racks for multiple purposes such as storing soap and water for hand washing as in this picture.
Drying rack of this picture is a unique one and the owners constructed it after using first a single tray rack. Now the house has a drying rack of two trays. The rack looks artistic, attractive and applicable as well. The owners say that they constructed this type of drying rack as the top gets more sunlight and helps to dry the utensils faster.
Drying rack of this picture is constructed by this eighty-year old man. Most of the elderly do not want to adapt to new innovations saying “we are almost expired so why should we apply new things in our daily life”. This man constructed this double tray drying rack and is also caring for the hygiene of utensils himself. This is very encouraging to other elderly as well as to young people who have not yet constructed a drying rack in his community.
The drying rack of this picture is also movable. It is made of curved wood that is rarely used by the people. It stands on another drying rack. Some people are starting to see drying racks as precious goods and show innovative ways of constructing them.
This unique drying rack is made of stone. It is full of details: it has two trays and a separate place for hanging spoons. A local artist used his skills to construct it. It shows well the many benefits of the behavior change: constructing and selling detailed drying racks like this contributes to income generating activities locally.
Findings and conclusions
Few rural households have drying racks when our project enters the communities. Moreover, often rural people have no idea about the benefits of using drying racks after washing the utensils. Most people put wet utensils wherever they feel easy. When people become aware of the demerits of storing utensils on the ground after washing, they change their mindset and start to pay attention on their behavior. As a result, people start to construct drying racks.
The people who have constructed drying racks and are using them have also started to share the benefits of using drying racks within their communities. Thanks to this, the number of drying racks constructed is increasing rapidly. People who have drying racks seem to be very satisfied. Drying racks help to improve hygiene, to control diseases, to create income generation opportunities and to support the local behavior change towards total sanitation.