Communication as a tool to enforce behaviour change

It is widely accepted that one the major challenges of the 21st century is to provide safe drinking water and basic sanitation for all. And yet governments continue investing a lot into research and implementation in the WASH sector and at both district and sub county level. The big question then arises ‘Why ain’t we making any progress?’ A Water Aid report reveals that countries like Uganda has achieved only 34 per cent access to basic sanitation compared to the required 72 per cent by 2015. This means that more than half of the Ugandan population lack access to basic sanitation facilities.

In many of the African countries like Uganda there is still big challenge to harmonize culture and the new ideas that keep cropping up each and every day. You realize that each of these new ideas is aiming at ensuring better and sustainable improved ways of living. For example the idea of mobile phones for WASH seems always manipulating, according to some communities and yet it looks at promoting effective communication, CLTs is the other initiative which has worked in many communities to eradicate ODF and still yet  many feel it hasn’t been successful.  Everything comes down to communication. When we communicate we use a lot more than just the verbal message that we want to get across. Often we don’t pay attention to the way we present ourselves, just as important as the verbal message is the non-verbal communication. Behavioural change is always the most important goal of our communication. Therefore before coming up with any community initiative, one has to design behaviour change strategy which should include:

  • Research and proper planning
  • Knowing the needs of the population

Different target groups will require different approaches. Therefore, when making decisions about which target groups and which factors to address, it is necessary to consider:

  • which target groups are most vulnerable;
  • which risk / vulnerability factors are most important;
  • which factors may be related to the impact of conflict and displacement;
  • which target groups and risk / vulnerability factors the community wants to address;
  • what could be motivators for behavior change;
  • what could be barriers to behavior change;
  • what type of messages will be meaningful to each target group;
  • which communication media would best reach the target group;
  • which services/resources are accessible to the target group;
  • which target groups and risk / vulnerability factors are feasible in terms of  expertise, resources and time.
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