Relevance of WASH Behaviour Change Approaches for developing countries

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  • Depinder Kapur is currently Senior Fellow at Shiv Nadar University, as Faculty in the Masters in Water Science and Policy Course.
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Relevance of WASH Behaviour Change Approaches for developing countries

How relevant are the WASH Behaviour Change Approaches of FOAM, RANAS and BCD for India and other developing countries - given the omission of caste and class context in these normative approaches?

WASH Behaviour Change approaches seek legitimacy from the discipline of Psychology. It claims to apply the principles of human psychology to programmatic interventions in WASH Behaviour Change interventions. But is it so? In popular WASH Behaviour Change approaches - Cognitive processes and Behaviours - need to be re established in WASH context and then also studied in their dialectical relationship.

When WASH Behaviour Change interventions are essentially applied social marketing approaches at best, or worse, are commercial product marketing approaches similar to selling Coca Cola or any other consumer item, then why seek legitimacy from the discipline of psychology?
When you only want to understand barriers to improved WASH behaviours as linked to motivation, abilities or opportunities, and not to their long term historical social and economic status, when you don't want to learn from how social movements change individual and social beliefs, when you don't want to engage with  understanding self perceptions of tribal, lower caste and class communities, and their limited aspirations.

In two WASH Behaviour Change research that i was engaged with - UNICEF(2012) and WHO( 2016) the findings from research in Bihar, Jharkhand, Telengana and Gujarat rural areas - showed that there are motivations other than the popular WASH Behaviour Change approaches cover, that influence behaviours.
Depinder Kapur is a Senior Fellow at Shiv Nadar University, Delhi. He has lead the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform(SCBP) of National Institute of Urban Affairs learning, research and advocacy on decentralized and non sewered sanitation( scbp.niua.org). His professional engagements have been with AKRSP(Program Officer Forestry), SPWD(Sr. Program Officer), CARE(Director NRM), Oxfam(Program & Advocacy Director), WaterAid India(Country Head) and WSSCC(National Coordinator) and as an independent consultant.

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