Assuring communities understand the importance of hygiene in reducing infectious disease is the first step in changing hygiene behaviours for the better. Research has shown participatory processes are effective in encouraging behaviour change.

Healthy hygiene approaches can improve the living conditions and health of communities. When adapted to local conditions and shared in participatory processes, these approaches build self-esteem and foster a sense of ownership in healthy hygiene practices.

Holistic or participatory community hygiene approaches aim for a complete change of behaviour with respect to hygiene. The approaches may include hand washing, safe disposal of children's faeces and other solid waste, household's treatment of drinking water, and improved food hygiene.

The approaches encourage the participation of individuals in a group process irrespective of age, sex, social class, or educational background. Participatory methods, such as the group process, are suitable for the community level and are designed to build people’s self-esteem and instil a sense of responsibility and ownership for one’s decisions.

Group participation is useful for encouraging involvement from women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, who in some cultures may be reluctant or unable to express their views. Inclusion of the greater community also has the advantage of aiding people to feel changes from within, rather than imposed from outside.

Some examples of participatory community hygiene are Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), Child Hygiene and Sanitation Training (CHAST), Community Health Clubs (CHC), and WASH in Schools. By employing different methodologies, each programme is based on pairing community involvement with changing behaviours related to hygiene.

WSSCC has compiled an overview of approaches, including the organization’s experiences and advantages/disadvantages, in the publication Sanitation and hygiene Software publication.

Last updated: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 00:04