WASH sanitation and hygiene focused initiatives must be given high priority in the determination of resource allocations. Poor sanitation is the primary cause of cholera and diarrhea, and subsequently of loss of life and opportunity. Adopting good sanitation and hygiene practices requires programmatic and donor commitments to health promotion and behavioral change at community, household and individual levels.
GHL takes a holistic approach that takes into account the following:
- Synthesis of the available evidence and identification of gaps in the knowledge, attitudes and practice needed for an effective response.
- Conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment to inform the project design and assure uptake. This may include key informant interviews and focus group discussions.
- Training and awareness campaigns are equally important as construction of new infrastructure. Training designs are also based on learning needs assessments, that check assumptions, understanding, expectations and experience.
- Clarification of roles on WASH committees is essential to ensure local ownership and sustainability.
- Gender-focused. Women’s traditional roles in water resource management are frequently overlooked. Participation of women in WASH projects, trainings and committees is critical, as they are primarily the ones who collect and use water in the household, ensure cleanliness and teach hygiene practices to children.
- Inclusion of school-based interventions that take into consideration the specific sanitation and hygiene needs of girls (privacy, safety, menstrual hygiene management (MHM), and etc.)
- Simple, cost-effective hygiene practices that are cost-effective and can go a long way – e.g. handwashing.
- Focus on long-term indicators of success, beyond completion of a project. Changing community norms takes time.
Our focus is on the intersection of agriculture, food security, behavior change and WASH under a changing climate. Within WASH, our approach/methodology expands from community hygiene management to watershed management,* as a foundation for sustaining resource investments in agriculture development, improving food security, and sustaining “traditional” WASH programs that focus on behavior change. Watershed management may include restoration, conservation, and infrastructure assessments.
*Watershed management defined broadly as awareness of land use activities upstream/downstream of area of interest with targeted recommendations to supplement primary programs/investments.
The SH in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)
by Stella Kirkendale, MPH
Global Health Liaisons (GHL) works to respond to local needs and ensures that hard-to-reach communities are involved in decision-making that affect them. One area where community input is critical to ensuring safety of the community is in the area of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, called WASH, a concept that is often understood as access to an adequate and sustainable water supply. While critically important, physical infrastructure improvements make strides toward improvement, these measures are insufficient without placing equal weight given to sanitation and hygiene, inter-sectoral collaboration and integration of community support and health education, recognition of gender roles, and efforts to address stigma and taboos, poverty, power dynamics and other structural determinants that contribute to disease.