A strong partnership to facilitate WASH research activities in the Pacific
IWC Project Officer, Edith Kamundi, has recently arrived in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to start field work with the DWU team as part of the joint WaterAid-IWC Civil Society WASH Fund project. The project aims to improve hygiene behaviours in communities and schools in PNG by engaging WaterAid PNG's staff and local partners in research activities.
Over the course of the 4-year project, applied research activities led by the IWC include formative research into hygiene behaviours with an initial focus on infant faeces management, which has been identified as a high-risk behaviour. Based on the formative research, the project will develop communication tools to promote better hygiene practices and develop associated monitoring and evaluation systems.
Main barriers to hygiene behaviour change
So far, hygiene promotion programs in PNG seek to educate communities on health topics such as faecal oral transmission routes, access to safe drinking water and handwashing with water and soap. However, WASH actors in the country are seeing little evidence of the success of the approach with no change in practices although communities have the relevant knowledge. There is therefore an effort to build on this approach by integrating behaviour change programs that address the psychological and environmental barriers to improved access to safe sanitation and hygiene in communities.
Benefits of participatory approach
Edith Kamundi's work combines a mix of qualitative and quantitative tools for an applied research process that also includes mobile based data collection technology. IWC and DWU use this process to strengthen the capacity of local organisations to undertake research, create ownership and empower local communities to embrace challenges and come up with solutions to address these challenges.
A similar participatory approach, where local communities are being involved in designing and implementing solutions to their problems, is being taken in another IWC-facilitated project, ‘Community Water and Sanitation in the Pacific: Fostering Sustainable WASH Marketplaces’.
This project aims to identify how sustainable WASH markets can be fostered and sustained in Pacific communities. It has already produced some early results in local communities in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, such as the installation of a second water main for a community in Fiji, resulting in more households being connected to the piped system and less water leakage; as well as the introduction of weekly clean-up activities in another community in Vanuatu.
- View an overview on IWC’s WASH-related projects
- Recent IWC news articles on WASH:
- WASH in schools across the Pacific
- IWC WASH project in the Pacific featured on ABC radio
- Field update November 2015: Fostering WASH marketing exchange systems in the Pacific
- Field update July 2015: Field update: Fostering WASH marketing exchange systems in the Pacific
Published 14 December 2015.