- Promoting Hygiene Education
- Promoting Positive Hygiene Behavior
- "Triggering" Communities
- Linking Water, Sanitation and Behavior Change
Through its hygiene education and promotion initiatives, the Ghana WASH Project motivates individuals and households to adopt positive behaviors for cleaner, healthier communities.
In the country’s rural communities, high-risk behaviors such as open defecation, poor household waste disposal, hand washing without soap, unhygienic water collection, transport and storage of water, consumption of untreated water, and using same for household activities, negatively impacts communities’ well-being. Communities also have low capacity to manage their water and sanitation facilities which affect the sustainability of these facilities.
In its baseline assessment of WASH characteristics in its targeted communities, the Ghana WASH Project found that only a small minority of community members had access to improved sanitation facilities like household toilets, and a significant number of community members practiced open defecation. Only one half of those surveyed was able to demonstrate proper hand washing techniques.
Four out of five community members surveyed could not demonstrate a solid understanding of the causes and prevention methods for water and sanitation-related diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever and Guinea worm. In the two-week window prior to the survey administration, one out of every three households had children below 5 years of age who had recently experienced diarrhea.
The Ghana WASH Project Approach to Hygiene Education and Promotion
The Ghana WASH Project employs hygiene education and promotion as a key pillar in its interventions, and the project works with schools, communities and health clinics to not only provide necessary water and sanitation facilities, but also encourage behavior change to ensure maximum health benefits.
Hygiene activities include Behavior Change Communication (BCC) activities to motivate lasting behavior change, such as working with School Health Clubs to target youth advocates for hygiene promotion and working with Water and Sanitation Committees to manage facilities as well promote good hygiene practices in their communities. The project also implements Community-Led Total Sanitation activities (CLTS) to promote self-investment to improve sanitation access. The project’s hygiene activities serve to create awareness by developing communities’ interest in WASH, guiding individuals to make healthy decisions and supporting them in their actions to adopt safe WASH practices.
Influencing to bring about behavior change takes time, but can ensure long-term effectiveness of water and sanitation-related interventions, ensuring the sustainability of benefits and community improvements. As part of the hygiene promotion approach, individuals and their communities review their existing practices and behaviors, better understand how these are linked to community health, and develop strategies to improve the community health.. The decision by an individual, household or community to adopt a desirable practice is influenced by a number of factors – existing believes and cultural practices, availability and affordability of options, access to needed resources and families’ priorities in using scarce resources. As with any change, people’s decisions to modify their behavior are largely influenced by the perceived benefits, and through knowledge and support, the project provides necessary incentives to spur community change.
The project works closely with stakeholders such as the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies/ Metropolitan, Municipal and District Water and Sanitation Teams (DWSTs), Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, Water and Sanitation Committees, Water and Sanitation Development Boards, Unit Committees, Assembly members, chiefs and opinion leaders, religious leaders, and private operators including other local and international non-governmental organizations.