Influencing WASH behaviours in the Pacific

An International WaterCentre training course is helping to ensure that behaviour change is an integral part of water, sanitation and hygiene programs in the Pacific.

In early December, 50 people from six Pacific Island countries graduated from an IWC course hosted by Griffith University that cements behaviour change strategies as a key part of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program design and delivery. The course was delivered with financial support from World Vision Vanuatu and Australia, and UNICEF Pacific, enabling the course to be accessible by participants from government ministries, civil society, and academia.

With participants dispersed across the Pacific, from Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea, innovative in-country hubs were established for many of the course participants to facilitate access to technology and support face-to-face learning through discussion and class activities. The short course covered 8 modules, each with a dedicated three hour online live session that included content delivery and group activities, supplemented with a set of online resources.

“We hosted training hubs in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati and Vanuatu, where we brought together participants for the weekly online classes throughout the duration of the course. This gave them the opportunity to make connections with other locally-based practitioners interested in WASH behaviour change, to do class activities together in groups, and discuss how the course content applies to their local context,” said Dr Regina Souter, the Director of the IWC

The students developed an understanding of how behaviour change strategies can be integrated into WASH programs in the Pacific and were provided the practical tools to guide the implementation of such strategies. A key learning was in the use of theoretical behaviour change frameworks to guide the development and assessment of behaviour change strategies. Throughout the course, participants undertook group projects to design a behaviour change strategy based on a real-life situation. They developed behaviour change activities, resources, key messages, communication channels and monitoring activities.

Following the program, participants reflected that they had gained a deeper understanding of the critical need to integrate behaviour change into WASH programs, as well as the ability to design interventions that address risky WASH behaviours, and to implement and assess behaviour change interventions within WASH programs.

“This course is excellent for any development practitioner to understand how to target and design interventions to achieve change. Highly informative, full of examples to support the theory, and grounded with a practical. Suits all knowledge levels too,” commented one participant.

Another valuable outcome for those enrolled in the program was an introduction to a network of Pacific-based colleagues engaged in the practice of promoting and supporting WASH programs and with an interest in behaviour change. The interactive nature of the course enabled participants to share their stories and experiences with the group and allowed them to build on these connections outside of the class times.

IWC hopes to offer the course again for Pacific-based WASH practitioners, in an effort to develop much needed local capacity to integrate behaviour change strategies to improve the effectiveness of WASH investments.  Contact us if you’d like to know more about this course or interested in learning more!