Church Leaders and Hygiene Promotion

Live & Learn’s hygiene promotion campaigns involve working with Change Agents. Change Agents are volunteers from local churches, local community health workers, and the staff of the sanitation enterprises. Utilising Change Agents means that some key activities of a campaign are delivered through trusted members of the community to the community.

Working with Church Leaders as Change Agents is very effective as churches are often one of the central hubs in a community. This can provide those within churches an important opportunity to be involved in a positive way in supporting improved sanitation and hygiene – particularly toilet use and hand washing.

Live & Learn recently facilitated a review of hygiene promotion plans that were being implemented by Church Leaders in the Henderson and Namoliki communities. The purpose of the review was to assess how the volunteers felt about implementing the hygiene promotion plans based on the Live & Learn aspirational hygiene promotion approach . The key messages are:

  1. Hand washing with soap under running water.
  2. Owning or improving a toilet.

Topics included hand-washing demonstrations, discussing the variety of CBSE products on offer and highlighting the benefits of owning a proper toilet. Church Leaders were encouraged to use the Hygiene Promotion report forms as soon as they conducted any community activities. They were also advised to return the forms to the Live & Learn office for documentation, monitoring and sharing purposes.

Below are listed some interesting points that arose from the workshop.

Ideas on how to improve hand-washing practice and toilet ownership:
  • House-to-house visits to share messages personally
  • WASH committee members act as role models in the community
  • Awareness specifically for children
  • Church Leaders to have simple hand-washing facilities in front of their houses to trigger community interest
  • WASH/Church committee should own toilets
  • Demonstration toilets for public should be built opposite the police post to promote the sanitation enterprise products
  • Different styles of presentation needs to be developed for varying circumstances

An interesting observation was made that the message about improving hand-washing practice was much easier for the church leaders to discuss than owning a toilet. Live & Learn is exploring reasons of this, and whether “toilet taboo” is affecting the church leaders or whether the financial cost of building a simple hand-washing facility is much more affordable than purchasing a toilet.  Church Leaders will continue working with Live & Learn staff to address these issues and find creative ways to get the message across.

Church Leaders are valuable Change Agents. They are also a good source of support for the community-based sanitation enterprises. As trusted community members they help spread the word about the importance of every family having a safe, clean toilet, and washing their hands with soap after using the toilet in a unique and effective way.

This activity has been implemented by Live & Learn through the Western Pacific Sanitation Marketing & Innovation Program, which is funded by the Australian government through the Civil Society WASH Fund.

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