Changing your own behavior is not easy; stimulating others to change their behavior in the chaotic setting of a natural or man-made disaster is definitely a challenge. But it can be worth the effort: a seemingly simple action as washing your hands with soap, has a dramatic effect on the prevalence of diarrhea diseases (up to 45% reduction). NGOs have been struggling getting this message across in an effective way. Therefore, ZOA recently started a pilot with the WASH’EM toolkit.
As part of our desire for innovation in WASH-projects, ZOA started piloting a new tool for improving handwashing behaviour in emergencies. This WASH’Em toolkit is being developed by three organisations: Action Contre la Faim (ACF), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST). WASH’EM contains insights from different behaviour change approaches. These are applied in this easy-to-use rapid assessment tool. The tool addresses five areas that are relevant when it comes to behaviour change: the existing handwashing practices, the motives of people to wash their hands (or not), the attitude of people towards diarrhoea and people’s personal experiences with the crisis. The tool also helps in prioritizing touchpoints: which communication channels can be used to reach the target groups?
As the WASH’Em team looked for organisations to test these new tools, ZOA Afghanistan decided to use two out of five tools in Nangahar and Uruzgan. The team was very positive about the tool and the support provided by the WASH’Em team. Benjamin Schaeffer, PGA ZOA Afghanistan: “The tool makes clear where the areas of attention are. ZOA Afghanistan and most other NGOs in the field did not really care about certain aspects that proved to be relevant, such as the provision of a place for handwashing.” With only two out of the five tools tested, the team already felt new insights were gained to improve the way ZOA works with the people to help them improve their situation.
ZOA is planning to test all the tools in different countries, to help the WASH’Em team further developing this approach. By the end of this year, we will have a simple but efficient tool available to serve the people we are working with in a better way.