Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change (India and caste issues)

  • depinder
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Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

There was a long discussion a few years ago on Behaviour Change on the CoP by WSSCC that was decided in 2009.

The need to look beyond short term marketing strategies to addressing deeper self perception and social barriers to improved sanitation behaviour change was discussed in detail. Unfortunately the discussion has not been curated by WSSCC on their portal.

India WASH Forum has done pathbreaking research work on showing that deeper self perception barriers are the most barriers to adoption of improved and safe behaviours. That you cannot brush them aside with short term advertising based communication AV campaigns in the spirit of commercial marketing techniques. You need to reach out to these deeper caste and class barriers employing the approaches used by social movements in west and east, and public engagement.

The following Paper presented at IRC conference and a Formative Research address this challenge.

The research identifies deeper self perception barriers of caste and class among mixed caste village communities and of lack of aspiration and desire for change among the poorest tribal communities - and not a lack of knowledge and awareness - that prevents adoption of safe and improved WASH behaviours.

Please also visit the India WASH Forum website - indiawashforum.com/

Depinder Kapur

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  • muench
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Re: Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

Dear Depinder,

Thanks for posting about this. The two attachments were from 2011 and 2012, and were about UNICEF’s Behaviour Change Communication Strategy in Bihar. Your findings are probably still just as valid even though this was 6-7 years ago. I am just wondering what prompted you to post about them here now? Has UNICEF's work in Bihar been successful with regards to behavior change, do you have new findings?

Also, I didn't understand what you meant by (underlining by me):

There was a long discussion a few years ago on Behaviour Change on the CoP by WSSCC that was decided in 2009.


Furthermore you mention caste as an important issue. I can very much imagine that this would be true. Does this mean your findings are very specific to the situation in India or do you see something equivalent to the "caste" issue in other countries? I do sometimes wonder if caste is very unique to India (pluse perhaps Nepal?).

Actually before I ask such general questions, let me take a look at Wikipedia. The article's lead ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste ) says:

Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a lifestyle which often includes an occupation, status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion.[1][2] Although caste systems exist in various regions, its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of Indian society into rigid social groups, with roots in India's ancient history and persisting until today.[3] However, the economic significance of the caste system in India has been declining as a result of urbanization and affirmative action programs. A subject of much scholarship by sociologists and anthropologists, the Indian caste system is sometimes used as an analogical basis for the study of caste-like social divisions existing outside India.


So the answer is, it exists around the world but is/was most strongly manifested in India.

Would you say that caste has not received enough attention in the behavior change programs for WASH in India?

Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

Hi Elisabeth.

There are few research reports that dwell on reasons beyond knowledge and information gaps for behaviour change in WASH. The marketing approaches to behaviour change in WASH, led by Val Curtis, promotes catchy communication that appeals to a baser level of human motivations as THE most appropriate approach for WASH behaviour change( while quoting Maslow's heirarchy of psychological motivations is behind behaviour change, but not explaining how higher level motivations can lead to behaviour change).

Then there is the CLTS approach that believes if you do triggering right, community behaviours can change overnight and people will start using toilets en masse.

The Bihar BCC study in WASH showed that knowledge gaps are not critical to behaviour change, people know what they should do but dont practice. Is it just habit or something more deeper? During the research we came across a group of Dalit( a term used for denominating lower castes inIndia) men, who said that if they did hand washing with soap, wore clean clothes - then they will come into conflict with upper caste men and community.

We followed this study of Bihar of 2011 with a study of tribal communities in 3 states in 2015, to test what was the deeper self perception barriers if any, among tribal households and individuals, that prevented them from adoption and use of toilets and improved hygiene behaviours. We found out that among the poorest tribal communities, their low standard of living at less than $100/month for a family of 5 to 6, why will they aspire for a toilet and improved hygiene behaviours if they cannot fathom any improvement in their living conditions. Hence a deeper self perception barrier of lack of aspiration for improvement in livelihoods and WASH.

So what does it tell us about what to do for BCC in WASH? The long discussion in the WSSCC CoP group on BCC in WASH a few years ago was about this and hence my mention in my previous message. This was curated in the India WASH Forum Newsletter series, but WSSCC did not curate any discussion on any topic which is sad.

Our study results show that if you want to change deeper self perception barriers in WASH, then you first have to honour the self and the work that the lower caste and class do. Your messaging cannot berate them for not using toilets and washing hands with soap. Your BCC messaging should first be about feeling proud of our hard work, our hands that do the hard work and our tough lives. Then once you honour and recognise them for what they do, only after this, the messaging can be - well we work hard and are proud of this, we will also wash our hands and use toilets. You need to learn from social movements that engage with peoples lives and perceptions, their fears and hopes - "Yes we can" type messaging. Why depend on marketing approaches to BCC in WASH that only harp on sex appeal of a scented soap for hand washing or trying to sell toilets like soft drinks or as a status symbol.

Caste and WASH is an issue that has not been studied. RICE institute has highlighted this and we hope others will.

Who can do BCC in WASH that addresses deeper self perception barrier. Certainly not the government( that does not question status quo for caste and class issues) , and also not the private sector( that links all BCC with their product sale).

What was not curated and left in WSSCC, I hope can be taken up in this thread by Susana.

A discussion on BCC in WASH with its implications beyond a quick fix solution seeking is required. Any takers?

Depinder Kapur
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  • lucasdengel
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Re: Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

Dear Depinder and Elisabeth,

within the last few years (of 25 years) of struggling with addressing sanitation issues in India I have come to conclude that the most important roadblock to changes in sanitation hygiene is caste conditioning. Indian school textbooks on social science speak of the purity-pollution gradient in the Indian society – a very apt term to characterize the issue. Naturally, all over the world, there are dirty and smelly and unpleasant works that are, if you have any choice, rather avoided and/or delegated to those who have less freedom to choose their work and livelihood. In many parts of the world, this delegation has also a taste of dismissive judgement e.g. by looking down upon someone who does not have the education to assume a “better” job etc. All these things seem to be rather universal, or, widespread. But in India, the arrogant white-collar class that feels above the dirty work of sanitation or above street sweeping and municipal solid waste management (which, with open defecation, is often close to each other) finds a moral-religious justification for avoiding such work in their status of purity. In other parts of the world, definitely in some European societies, this attitude would face the risk of being ridiculed and challenged with the question: Who is above sanitation? Anybody here who does not defecate?
I have come to respect (simple?) village folks who state that they prefer open defecation to sanitation in a claustrophobic, ill-ventilated, shabbily constructed, badly designed box. Besides the fact that I personally share their claustrophobia, these folks are aware that a toilet means management of feces, either as septage or as sludge or as dried (UDDT) fecal compost. And dealing with excreta is associated with stepping down the caste ladder. Such work in India is only done by the dalits. The white-collar government or NGO personnel – including those who design and direct (rural) sanitation projects – may regard the “non-sanitized” as less sophisticated or educated; some might even regard themselves, justifiedly, as having grown beyond caste issues, but they can do so only because dalits i.e. Scheduled Caste i.e. outcaste members clean their sewerage and their streets. (We observed that even those who award cleanliness prizes based on toilet inspections, actually would never inspect the toilets...)
Whenever I bring up the issue in front of (Indian) audience in the last few years, audience consisting of medical doctors, civil engineers, IAS officers etc. there is - mostly - agreement on this, but people seem to feel helpless. We had the example of a top IAS officer who, with his hands and a shovel, emptied twin pits of fecal sludge, and the photos went through the internet. I would hope that we could see such pictures every day until they will have become deadly boring; then we could be sure that the change has happened. (My team's well-educated Indian staff has the courage to do manual work related to sanitation, emptying of septic tanks and of fecal compost chambers etc.)
It is only in the last two years, thanks to publications of RICE and others, that this issue is being addressed, at least in personal discussions, but not yet in conferences. (There we are still discussing technological gadgets and contrivances founded on Western charity funds aiming at business success...) The change of attitude needs to be pushed from above, i.e. by those educated, well-off, in white-collar jobs, with academic titles; the change in caste attitude cannot be expected from the lower classes i.e. castes. Fortunately, I see the change in attitude occurring, never at the speed one would hope for, and not in match with terms of government or SDG goals, but nevertheless...
Greetings, Lucas

Dr. Lucas Dengel
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Re: Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

Dear Lucas,

The depth of caste antagonism in India needs to be felt to be fully understood. And you and me cannot experience it. Yet we are sensitive to it so all we can do is raise this issue again and again.

Unfortunately, sanitation promotion approaches like CLTS are silent about the caste challenge and assume that if you trigger a rural community into toilet construction then all will build toilets and live happily ever after. I have not seen an CLTS literature that tells us how they encountered the caste challenge, how the dalits were persuaded and not hounded for not building toilets, how in rural Bihar and UP in India where land is a big issues, how did the dalits find land to build household toilets. How in Punjab where caste violence is a big issue and where migrant agriculture labour live in "rural slum settlements" that are unique in India - how do they manage toilets and sanitation.

Sanitation promotion approaches see rural community as a social homogenous entity, that is a big fallacy.

Need to raise this issue. Good you did.

Depinder Kapur
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  • MCVedrin
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Re: Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

Hi depinder,

I am not a long time expert in any of the behavior change work, but did some diving into literature in the past 6 months led me to approaches that come to mind which recognize part of your concern for methods that make vast assumptions about what specific types of leverage points cause people to change and sustain changed behavior, as well as the idea that just knowledge & information itself would change behavior.

Two that specifically come to mind are the RANAS approach and the Behavior Centred Design approach. There are some others such as the Integrated Behavioral Model - WASH (IBM-WASH) which get at larger multi-level forces (individual, interpersonal, household, community, society) that can impact behavior, but the first two I mentioned focus much more in depth on psycho-social factors that may be more relevant to the immediate discussion.

Here are some links:

RANAS:
www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/resource...library/details/2397
www.ranasmosler.com/

BCD:
www.lshtm.ac.uk/bcd


I think that your discussions about the embededness of castes within the inherent motivations and psycho-social manifestations of sanitation work are in part beyond what these behavior change methodologies get at...but I also think that these methodologies go well beyond what CLTS could provide and what a simple "educate" / information transfer could provide.

Interested to hear your comments/thoughts and I apologize in advance if this is all information already known or shared.

Best,

Matt
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Re: Deeper Self Perception Behaviour Change Barriers - Looking beyond short sighted commercial marketing behaviour change

Thanks Matt for sharing and apologies for delayed response.

RANAS is certainly better than the KAP approach. Norms and Ability - are closest to what i am trying to identify with the Caste barriers in sanitation for India. How social norms and internalised by the lower caste, is what i was saying, cannot be countered by simple marketing approaches to behaviour change.

Depinder Kapur
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