Behaviour change in sanitation and hygiene - 'You thought quitting smoking was hard - try using a toilet'


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Behaviour change in sanitation and hygiene - 'You thought quitting smoking was hard - try using a toilet'

While at the 6th World Water Forum, Marseille, in March this year, I attended an interesting side-event on behaviour change in sanitation and hygiene, convened by the Global Community of Practice on Sanitation and Hygiene and WSSCC. The event was moderated by Pippa Scott of WSSCC. The session was a free debate on what works and doesn’t work in changing behaviors for sanitation and hygiene. The session was attended by 31 participants from 14 countries. The following was the interesting output of the frank discussions:

What works in changing behaviors?

• Targeted interventions (what incentives and messages work in a given context?)and discover the key points of change, what is the crucial “tipping point” for target groups (i.e. privacy for girls in Cambodia). Targeting children to take the messages to
• Repetition so that practice comes behaviour
• Incentives, positive reinforcements, aspiration (self worth, dignity, motivation)
• Self-realization and discovery, strong emotions, personal competition, peer
• Product placement and branding (marketing for social change)
• Improving user experiences (make it enjoyable, uplifting, cool!)
• Try everything that works, respond to the situation with flexibility. Use not only one
approach, but try different approaches and broaden out.

What doesn’t work in changing behaviors?

• Health messages, they are too abstract
• Don’t ask anyone to change behavior that you want, generate self-realization
• Creating user experiences in poor conditions is difficult
• Tragedy of promise EXAMPLE: from Uganda, shared handwashing basin by public
latrines is not refilled because people don’t want to use clean water to fill a basin
for collective use for handwashing, water is perceived as too
precious for that.

Anyone interested in adding more points; or, may like to share some personal experience on changing behaviors.

F H Mughal
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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