10.1 Selecting priority behaviour in the WASH context

You learned in Study Session 8 how to assess and analyse behaviour within a FOAM framework. Based on the findings from such an analysis, priority behaviours can be identified. These are behaviour changes that could contribute to an improvement in the health of the target population. The purpose of identifying priority behaviours in WASH is to assist in developing a focused behaviour change communication intervention that can contribute to sustainable change in the health condition of the population. Specific behaviours related to WASH will need to be addressed at individual, household and community levels.

The behaviour change strategy would also need to identify potential target audiences for the campaign. If there are inadequate resources to address every target audience at the same time, then some will need to be prioritised. For example, you might give priority to audience groups that comprise the largest proportion of the target population, or are identified as having high public health importance, or likely to be most receptive to communication messages.

Some key WASH related priority behaviours, and suggested target audiences, are presented in Table 10.1. These are just a few examples. In practice there are many other possible priority behaviours depending on the situation. You should select appropriate priority behaviours and target audiences based on a situation analysis for the community in which you are working.

Table 10.1 Priority behaviours and target audiences for key WASH components.
Key WASH componentPriority behaviourTarget audience
Safe drinking waterKeep water safe at source of supply

Private water vendors

Public stand pipe attendants

People who collect water from protected springs and wells

People who sell from their own wells

Always transport water in closed containersWomen, men, children in homes without pipe connection
Cover drinking water container at all timesAll residents
Fetch drinking water in a manner that does not put hands/fingers into drinking water, i.e. tap, long-handled ladleAll residents
Place drinking water container on a raised surface out of reach of small childrenAll residents
Use proven, effective methods to purify drinking water, i.e. boiling, purification tablets/sachets, filtration, solar heatingAll residents
Clean containers used for transportation and storage of drinking water at least once a weekAll residents
Latrine useUse a latrine at all times (including for disposal of child faeces) and do not use open defecationAll residents including those living in compound houses, in peri-urban areas, parents, guardians and carers of children under five years, carers of elderly or disabled residents
Dispose of solid waste generated at home safelyAll residents
Other home practices Wash hands with soap and air dry at the five critical times, i.e. before eating, after handling child‘s faeces, before preparing food, before feeding a child, and after defecatingAll residents, but especially parents, guardians and carers of children under five years, school children and anyone handling food
Sweep the house and surroundings daily and dispose of the sweepings in a designated placeAll residents

Cook food well

Wash vegetables well in brine (salt water)

Wash all utensils, containers, surfaces before preparing meat

Do not use the same surface for cutting meat and vegetables

Food vendors, restaurant owners, women, men, children
Clean yourself with adequate water and soap regularlyAll residents

Some of these priority behaviours are illustrated in Figures 10.1 to 10.4.

Figure 10.1 Supplying water in closed containers with secure lids.
Figure 10.2 Using closed containers is particularly important when there is stagnant water nearby.
Figure 10.3 Water purification tablets for household water treatment.
Figure 10.4 Washing hands with soap before eating at a restaurant.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 10

10.2 Behavioural barriers to improving hygiene and sanitation