Hygiene behaviour change under the spotlight on FLARE Day 3

Hygiene behaviour change was the focus of day three of the CS WASH Fund Learning and Reflection Event in Brisbane this week. The day began with a plenary session on hygiene behaviour change from WASH Facilitator Mark Ellery. Mark explained the difference between chronic and acute effects of faecal ingestion, arguing that the sub-clinical chronic effects which lead to environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) and stunting are issues that WASH practitioners need to understand. EED and faecal exposure in the first two years’ of a baby’s life have a long-term impact on growth and development, with flow-on impacts on a nation’s intellectual and economic development. Bruce Bailey (Team Leader, Monitoring, Evaluation and Review Panel) followed-on from presenting Fund-wide hygiene behaviour change data which shows a strong focus on improving sanitation and hygiene behaviours in target communities across the Fund. Bruce highlighted that WASH in schools is a challenging area: whilst projections for students participating in school hygiene behaviour programs have risen by 20% projections for access to school WASH facilities have fallen. Following this plenary participants broke into parallel sessions on:

  • Strengthening the enabling environment for sustained behaviour change;
  • Sustaining hygiene and sanitation behaviours; and
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management

During these sessions participants explored the progress, challenges and areas requiring further information relating to behaviour change. The key messages coming through centred on the critical role of partnerships and working with both government and community partners in rolling out and scaling up behaviour change communications; the importance of having an evidence base and good data to identify the key motivations and triggers for behaviour change – both health and non-health motivators are often required; and that who is delivering the behaviour change messages and how they are delivered is just as important as the messages themselves.     

After lunch we heard from the five CSOs piloting the CS WASH Fund Innovations and Impact grants with a panel discussion on their innovative approaches, outcomes and how the grants have influenced and strengthened CSO projects. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in a second parallel session on Disaster risk reduction (DRR)/climate change/water scarcity, WASH markets and WASH in Schools. Discussion centred on:

  • How CSOs managed projects when faced with natural disasters – cyclones, floods and droughts - and how to better integrate DRR and environmental considerations into project designs;
  • Increasing sanitation access through market approaches, particularly the effectiveness of pro-poor strategies (smart-subsidies, outputs-based aid approaches and loans);
  • Strategies, including nudges for handwashing and awareness raising tools, for implementing WASH in schools. 

The day concluded on a social note with a dinner overlooking the Brisbane River and many participants joining us in their beautiful traditional dress. The final day of the FLARE will focus on strengthening the enabling environment, mobilising resources and scaling-up sanitation and hygiene. 

Pictured (L-R): Innovation Panel including Thinley Dem (SNV Bhutan), Tim Davis (WaterAid Australia), Mark Harper (Welthungerhilfe) and Chris Nicoletti (iDE). Not pictured: Lee Leong (Plan Australia)