In rural areas where open defecation is the norm, we empower communities to change unhealthy behaviors and to adopt basic sanitation.
PSI emphasizes a comprehensive behavior change communications (BCC) strategy to create health impact at the population, community and household levels. Handwashing messages, for example, are paired with information about toilet use to reinforce an integrated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) strategy.
Creating new social norms around the unacceptability of open defecation is a powerful driver of behavior change. We use a community-mobilization model called Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) that encourages communities to come up with their own solutions to their sanitation problems through a facilitated discussion using tools like community mapping are also exploring how to create a brand association with being declared an Open Defecation Free (ODF) community. The idea is to increase the number of communities that view ODF status as a source of pride and a symbol that they live in a developed community. The creation of brand appeal for ODF enables us to leverage ODF communities, to inspire members of non-ODF households to wish to have the same pride associated with their communities. Additionally, the risk of the brand being removed should households revert to open defecation practices adds positive pressure to a community to maintain their ODF status and helps to sustain behavior change over time.
Making a difference
CLTS is designed to change the perception of open defecation so that community members view it as an unsanitary and unacceptable practice. This change also generates demand for improved sanitation.
In South Sudan, we complement CLTS efforts by creating demand for sanitation by training local masons on toilet construction techniques as well as business development and marketing skills. We plan to expand private-sector access by identifying new potential entrepreneurs, in addition to masons, who can respond to household needs and preferences.
In Liberia, we complement the CLTS program implemented by our partner Global Communities by promoting and distributing WaterGuard, our chlorine-based household water treatment product, and by leading behavior change communication activities. Messages are disseminated around three key topics: handwashing with soap, consistent point-of-use water treatment with WaterGuard, and safe storage and disposal of feces for adults and children by using toilets.