World Bank targets smarter sanitation communication for rural Ethiopia

By Peter McIntyre, IRC Associate

The World Bank in Ethiopia has commissioned a rapid survey of what motivates people to upgrade their latrines, with the aim of delivering behaviour change communication materials with greater impact.

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Sanitation rapid survey launch meeting Addis Abeba, 23 March 2017 (Photo: Sirak Wondimu)

The survey is being conducted in four regions, with the main target audiences being adult women, male heads of households, opinion leaders and existing sanitation businesses.

The aim is to pilot and produce materials that emphasise the dignity, prestige and status of having improved sanitation, rather than focusing only on health messages.

The WB decided a new approach was needed after Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) figures for 2016 suggested that only 4% of rural households in Ethiopia have improved toilets facilities while a further 2% have facilities that would be considered improved if they were not shared. This is well below the Joint Monitoring Program figure of 28% for improved latrines (although we understand this may be revised down to around 14%). Indeed, according to DHS, although access to some form of sanitation has risen, access to an improved latrine has declined in percentage terms over the past ten years. Most latrines in rural areas (55%) do not have an effective slab or lid while more than a third of rural households (39%) practise open defecation.

The Government of Ethiopia has a flagship programme to increase use of improved latrines to 82% by 2020.

At a launch meeting in Addis on 23 March 2017, social market consultant, Addis Meleskachew, said that this initiative will develop a memorable brand for marketing materials that will encourage the private sector to provide materials and will attract rural families to buy them.

Dagnew Tadesse,Hygiene and Environmental Health Case Team Leader for Ministry of Health, welcomed the initiative to attract business but emphasised that the GoE approach is based on a comprehensive health education strategy with multiple messages including hygiene awareness, handwashing and safe food, and said that these important messages should not be abandoned.

Jane Bevan, rural WASH Manager at UNICEF Ethiopia offered to share extensive data that UNICEF has collected for its country programme on attitudes to sanitation, which has identified the high cost of concrete slabs as a significant obstacle. She presented examples of low cost options for upgrading sanitation in a pilot project in Tigray region. It was agreed to collate all existing KAP studies and relevant data including research by SNV.

Monte Achenbach from PSI and John Butterworth from IRC spoke about the work being started by USAID Transform WASH to market innovative sanitation models. John Butterworth said there is a need to make people aware of what is available and to get materials to where they are needed.

The World Bank research is being conducted by 251 Communications.

This blog was originally posted on 5 April 2017 on the IRC website.

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