the great toilet paper part two (all wrapped up? wiped out?)

on friday, at 4:44pm we emailed the final draft of our research paper to unicef and the public affairs foundation.  in it we detail our findings on how the total sanitation campaign in bangalore rural district was able to effect widespread behavior change (in terms of not only toilet construction but also usage).  in such a short period of time we’ve found that the campaign was able to inspire and mobilize community-led taskforces – of local elected representatives, teachers, child care center workers, health workers, and youth – to go door to door promoting the benefits of toilet usage and monitoring progress toward toilet construction.  to ensure usage, community watchdog groups patrolled the open defecation sites with whistles and cameras to induce a sense of shame in the act of open defecation.  they also told sensationalist stories of women being raped and murdered while going out for open defecation at night, as well as of babies being born with multiple heads as a result of poor sanitation.  all this created fear in open defecation and enabled the campaign to overcome traditional mindsets.

in our paper we’ve identified three components leading to behavior change: awareness of benefits (change in knowledge), emotional response (change in attitude), and provision of financial and technical inputs (change in capacity). these links are well-established in the field of behavior change, so it’s exciting to see them used so effectively here.  i’ve also been excited by the role played by the ex-CEO of the district.  everyone we meet speaks of her with such awe – she’s clearly been an inspirational leader to many officials and community leaders, motivating them to work on the campaign with fervor.  it seems she did it by appealing to their sense of social responsibility and commitment to public service (yay public service) rather than monetary incentives or threats of dismissal.

i’m not going to go on forever – you can read the paper if you like.  the high point of the week however (beyond finishing the paper) was on tuesday when we presented our findings to officials in the state rural water supply and sanitation agency.  it was our third of four shots at the presentation, and we nailed it.  the agency director was so impressed he offered to publish the paper!  in fact, he and the unicef state officer argued over who would get to publish it!  he also asked us to extend our stay in bangalore so we could visit areas that have been having trouble implementing the total sanitation campaign so we could offer suggestions as to why.  when our host kindly interjected that we were leaving but the PAF would be more than happy to engage in follow-up research, the director rebuffed him, saying he wanted us specifically (us lowly interns, as our host has often reminded me) and not the PAF, because he valued our insights so highly.  that, my friends, is validation.  and it feels pretty nice.

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~ by aliciawolcott on August 3, 2010.

One Response to “the great toilet paper part two (all wrapped up? wiped out?)”

  1. Enjoyed it all! Stacy

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