the work

yes i know you’re curious about the work i’m doing here.  you’re wondering what all this sight-seeing and eating and all has to do with UNICEF.  you read the ‘about me’ page and saw something about ‘household behavior patterns in total sanitation campaign’ and thought that needed unpacking.  well, without further delay…

i am in india to do research on the recent sanitation campaign by the state of karnataka in bangalore rural district.  this particular district was chosen by UNICEF for further research because of the rapid success it had in attaining the president’s award for total sanitation (measured on four indicators: all households have access to a sanitary toilet, all members of the community use the toilet – there is no open defecation, all schools and child care centres have separate toilets for girls and boys, and the community provides for solid and liquid waste management).  the campaign went into full-scale effect in 2008.  by 2009, 40 gram panchayats (sub-unit within the district, about the size of a small town) applied for this award and after extensive evaluation all 40 received the award.  our task is to produce a case study of this effort which may be used by the government and by UNICEF to improve the campaign in other parts of the state and the country.

last week we spent doing background research on the campaign itself.  it rests on three theoretical tenets: 1) that the campaign must be community-led (rather than imposed by the state), 2) that it be people-centered, and 3) that it be demand-driven (meaning that people must demand toilets, that the government cannot merely hand them out or they will not be used).  the campaign began by building leadership committment at the community level through capacity development.  it then tapped local NGOs and self-help groups to implement an intensive awareness-building campaign to educate the communities to the health benefits of the toilets.  it also provided financial incentives and technical assistance for construction of toilets.  households living below poverty line received a stipend from the government.  all households could access interest-free microfinance loans through the self-help groups.

our research focuses on the reasons why households ultimately decided to construct a toilet.  was it pressure from the community?  was it information from the awareness-campaign?  was it the financial assistance?  was it simply that the district is close to bangalore and people were influenced by growth there?  our research will include interviews with key stakeholders, focus-group discussions with community members (particularly women), as well as a household survey.  we had a first round of interviews last monday, and a first field visit to one of the villages on thursday.  next week we’ll be doing three more visits.

our advisor on the project is a mr. prasad and his colleague mr. lokesh.  they work for the public affairs foundation, which has provided us with office space and logistical support.  the public affairs foundation does research and evaluation of programs across india, africa, and parts of central asia, on topics ranging from water and sanitation to HIV/AIDS to community participation in governance.  they’ve created a ‘citizen’s report card’ survey instrument which i hope to learn more about, if not for this project then for others in the future.

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~ by aliciawolcott on June 14, 2010.

One Response to “the work”

  1. Sounds great Alicia. Look forward to reading more (on the blog) and hearing more upon your return.

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