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 privacy policy

Behavior change leads to improved water and sanitation practices

A boy washes his hands using a tap constructed at his school as part of Plan's integrated school based water and sanitation facilities project in Indonesia.
A boy washes his hands using a tap constructed at his school as part of Plan's integrated school based water and sanitation facilities project in Indonesia.

In both urban and rural areas, Plan actively promotes the proper use and handling of water and good hygiene practices.

One of the most widely applied approaches to promoting behavior change among villages is Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), especially in African countries (e.g. Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger). 

Child-to-Child

Child-to-Child is a unique approach to improving water and sanitation practices through peer education. Through hygiene-related activity-oriented learning methods, children become more knowledgeable and develop into agents of change in their local environment with other children, their families and the community.

To further raise awareness on the importance of proper water and sanitation practices, Plan supports the celebrations of World Water Day on national and local levels; lobbies with governments to advocate for child rights to potable water; and mobilizes communities to discuss and act upon the relevant issues.

PHASE Success in Nicaragua

From 2001 to 2005, Plan implemented a four-year PHASE project (funded through a grant from Glaxo Smith Kline) that directly benefited nearly 20,000 students in 40 schools across 126 rural communities in Nicaragua.

Using Child-to-Child to promote PHASE, we initially trained 1,067 children as child monitors in personal hygiene, sanitation and leadership. Under the guidance of teachers, these 1,067 children then disseminated their knowledge to 9,393 children through functional groups of 15 children each.

At home, mothers were motivated by children to practice more hygienic ways to prepare their meals, while fathers were encouraged by children to improve the household supply of water and sanitation services.

After the first three years of PHASE:

  • An evaluation revealed a 42 percent decrease in the cases of diarrhea among under-five children;
  • The percentage of families with access to safe water increased from 58% to 100%;
  • The percentage of families that had not reported cases of diarrhea in the past 15 days increased from 59% to 86.3%; and
  • The number of families showing improvement in handling and conserving drinking water tripled from 33.5% to 95.9%.

Due in part to the wide success of the project, the World Bank has included the PHASE materials and methods in a forthcoming toolkit for hygiene promotion. Additionally, Plan's programs in Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Ecuador Bolivia and Brazil are considering its widespread application.