Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • lmmusoka
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  • I am a Masters of Public Health student specializing in Global Health and Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. I am currently researching the sanitation sector, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa. My areas of focus are program evaluation, qualitative research, and the intersectionality between WASH and religion and spirituality.
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Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hello, 

My name is Lena Musoka, a second-year MPH student in Global Health and Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. I am working with Jay Graham, a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. We are conducting a study to explore the role of cultural beliefs and religion/spirituality in sanitation programs within rural communities living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

(English version)
Check out the following video to learn more about this study and how you can participate!  Fill out this survey to participate:  forms.gle/eC1sKuVupmdFtm1G6



(French version)
Suivez la vidéo suivante pour en savoir plus sur comment vous pouvez participer!
Si vous souhaitez participer, remplissez ce sondage:  https://forms.gle/Ewf6ZLLSV45e13Vz7



Please help share this information with your WASH networks. 
Thank you! 
Lena Musoka 😎💩
Master of Public Health, 2021
University of California, Berkeley
lenamusoka@gmail.com|https://www.linkedin.com/in/lena-musoka/
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hi Lena,

Welcome to the discussion forum! You have come to the right place. :-)
To get more participation in your survey, I suggest you tell us more about the study. Perhaps you have a link to the project description?
Also, could you post the survey questions as a pdf file so that people can get an overview of the questions before deciding whether to fill in the survey or not?
Do you have any research hypotheses that you are trying to test?
Are you also looking into aspects of excreta reuse or just plain toilets? Or handwashing?

Regards,
Elisabeth
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(with financial support by GIZ from July to October 2021)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • lmmusoka
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  • I am a Masters of Public Health student specializing in Global Health and Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. I am currently researching the sanitation sector, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa. My areas of focus are program evaluation, qualitative research, and the intersectionality between WASH and religion and spirituality.
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Re: Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hi Elisabeth, 

Thank you for the warm welcome and for sharing suggestions to get more participation. 🙂
I have attached the informed consent, which provides a little more information on the study. I have also attached the survey questions so people can take a look at them before deciding whether to participate or not. 

I am not trying to test any hypothesis. I am rather hoping to learn about the extent and approach that health and development organizations have taken with respect to engaging communities’ religious and spiritual beliefs and values when implementing sanitation programs. This study could be a start to investigate whether religion and spirituality play an important role in the successful implementation of sanitation programs (specifically related to cultural sensitivity and appropriateness of WASH programs and community behavior change). 

I hope this information is helpful! 

Best,
Lena 
Lena Musoka 😎💩
Master of Public Health, 2021
University of California, Berkeley
lenamusoka@gmail.com|https://www.linkedin.com/in/lena-musoka/

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  • Chaiwe
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  • Independent consultant (strategic planning, project management and M&E in WASH, climate action and, gender and HIV) and Part-time Solid Waste Management Lecturer at the University of Zambia.
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Re: Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dear Lena,

Great survey!  How are things catching on/ unfolding a month on from your last post? 

It is great to see research being carried out on sanitation programs and cultural beliefs. Faith and religious norms have a big impact on achieving universal access to safe sanitation and hygiene in many parts of the globe. I remembered a  useful resource  in relation to the topic that was shared on the forum sometime last year please refer to this link.  https://www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/resources-and-publications/library/details/3845

 
In Malawi, a faith-based organisation has been distributing hand hygiene and Covid-19 prevention flyers and engaging the local community to fight the virus. These religious organisations form church mobilization groups perform WASH demonstrations, host community meetings, and conduct house visits to share WASH-related messages.  Cultural beliefs and religion should be looked at from a technical understanding point of view on how it relates to and influences behaviour, mindset change, and how it influences WASH.  https://www.devex.com/news/hygiene-and-hymns-why-wash-programs-need-faith-leaders-97561 

Faith leaders’ participation in WASH programming and improvement of infrastructure is a major initial step in laying the foundation for needed behavior change related to WASH practices within communities. Religious players and organisations can change the landscape in many ways especially in developing countries. You can read this article about religious organisations engagement in WASH: 
wedc-knowledge.lboro.ac.uk/resources/con...41/Mallonee-3023.pdf

Looking forward to the final report of this study when concluded, Good Luck!

Chaiwe  
SuSanA Forum Moderator
(With financial support by GIZ from June to October 2021)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
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  • NatalieAliceBoydWilliams
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  • Ph.D student researching the role of toilet-linked anaerobic digestion in creating sustainable rural livelihoods. I am working on an interdisiplinary project applying socio-technical methods of data collection and analyis.
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Re: Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hello Lena,

Your project sounds so interesting as well as very important. I am looking
forward to hearing about what you find.
I am researching socio-cultural norms around waste-to-energy technology
(toilet-connection biogas digesters) in Nepal and India.
Though the focus of my project is around the energy use there is an aspect of
sanitation behaviour change or perceptions of new sanitation. I am still collecting data and analysing but I think I have found that one of the main differences in adoption or willingness to adopt (I have interviewed people that have adoption the technology as well as those that haven't) is the difference between how they see the technology fitting in with religious and socio-cultural norms as well as the opportunity to trial or observe the technology.

People either see the technology as opposing socio-cultural norms and religious practices and in no way being able to exist alongside one another or, being able to exist alongside each other even though they may contradict each other - some people don't see the technology as erasing socio-cultural norms and some do (the use of biogas from human excreta is polluting and opposes purification
rituals around prayer for one example). The other aspect is that people have reflected that if they were given the chance to observe or trial the technology their resistance or concerns around smell or feeling disgusted might change. It seems with some toilet-connection biogas interventions people have not been given enough, or any time, to become accustomed to the technology over time and not given the opportunity to see it in their locality so they can imagine it better.  I'm not sure that links with what you are researching but would be interested to hear your thoughts or if you are looking at something similar!

Best wishes,
Natalie
Ph.D student researching the role of toilet-linked anaerobic digestion in creating sustainable rural livelihoods.

Investigating the social and cultural barriers that affect the acceptance of human excreta as a source of biogas and agricultural fertiliser and how pathways to acceptance can be forged.

Interested in the intersection of energy and sanitation : )
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  • lmmusoka
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  • I am a Masters of Public Health student specializing in Global Health and Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. I am currently researching the sanitation sector, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa. My areas of focus are program evaluation, qualitative research, and the intersectionality between WASH and religion and spirituality.
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Re: Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hi Chaiwe, 

Apologies for my late response. 

I am still collecting data but I am excited about the interesting findings from the surveys and in-depth interviews. I could not agree more with you. I think that one takeaway from the insights participants have shared so far is that faith and religion in WASH programs are amazing tools that can complement technical solutions. I am also working on putting the report together and am hoping to share it soon! 

Thank you so much for linking all the helpful resources, I am definitely looking forward to reading them. 
Lena Musoka 😎💩
Master of Public Health, 2021
University of California, Berkeley
lenamusoka@gmail.com|https://www.linkedin.com/in/lena-musoka/
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  • lmmusoka
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  • I am a Masters of Public Health student specializing in Global Health and Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. I am currently researching the sanitation sector, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa. My areas of focus are program evaluation, qualitative research, and the intersectionality between WASH and religion and spirituality.
  • Posts: 4
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Re: Research Study: Cultural Beliefs and Religion/Spirituality in Sanitation Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hi Natalie, 

I am sorry for my late reply, I somehow missed the notification. Your research study sounds really awesome! Thank you for sharing the findings. It is really interesting to see that in many parts of the world and for many communities, religion and socio-cultural norms play a very important role in adopting a behavior or a technology. 

What you found sounds very similar to some findings from what I am studying. For example, some communities found open defecation safer than using pit latrines. According to spiritual beliefs in that community, using a pit latrine may lead to being bewitched (which seems to be linked to the use of human excreta in witchcraft). And so, there was a fear of using pit latrines as people would think "other will know where I defecate and could easily access my excreta", as opposed to people not knowing where your fecal waste is when you openly defecate. Many organizations shared that it is often challenging and time-consuming but necessary to think about culturally appropriate ways to address beliefs that may discourage safe sanitation. Your finding of people wanting to observe or try out the technology for a bit definitely makes me reflect on the time-consuming aspect of it. It sounds, from our findings, that it may be important for interventions to examine whether they have taken enough time with the community (to make sure they are accustomed to the technology or to understand and discuss their behavior). 

In many other instances, however, religious beliefs greatly encouraged communities to adopt safe sanitation practices (for example the use of water for anal cleaning and handwashing for Muslim communities). 

I think it is really interesting that you found that some people find that technology can coexist with religious socio-cultural norms, even though they may contradict each other.  I find this really intriguing. I look forward to hearing more about the findings. 
Lena Musoka 😎💩
Master of Public Health, 2021
University of California, Berkeley
lenamusoka@gmail.com|https://www.linkedin.com/in/lena-musoka/
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