Posts Tagged ‘Nuru International’

Behavior Change and Latrines in Kenya

By Red Balloon Ideas on August 8th, 2012 1 Comment

Toilet. Loo. Latrine. Lavatory. Bathroom. Commode. Outhouse.

No matter what you call them – toilets have been a key part of economic and social advancement throughout history. This reality holds true in Nyanza Province, Kenya as well.

All our clients are dedicated to creating innovative solutions to address poverty and social justice issues – and Nuru International is no different.  With a mission of eradicating extreme poverty, their staff are working hard to empower the local community, create jobs and improve health.

One of the ways Nuru is working to achieve this goal is through public education and the provision of commodities that support healthy behaviors such as soap, hand washing stations and mosquito nets.  The newest product that Nuru is promoting in the community are cement slab latrines.

Those who have indoor plumbing may not think about the challenges that arise from open defecation.  Rainwater can wash fecal matter into nearby streams used for water collection causing diarrhea, cholera, and other diseases that kill 1.5 million children each year.  The use of toilets dramatically reduces contamination of food and water, increases productivity, and improves economic stability.

Improving public health is an important part of reducing poverty.  Nuru healthcare officers spent months encouraging community members to purchase or  build a latrine for their family. The health risks associated with open defecation were well known in the community, but Nuru wasn’t seeing any real shifts in behavior. Nuru staff recognized the importance of behavior change in reaching their goal.

We were contracted to help Nuru examine their product design and develop a strategy for interfacing with the community in Nyanza, Kenya about latrines. Our founder, Fay Johnson, spent two weeks in July working with Nuru’s Kenyan team.  During this time she conducted trainings on behavior change and collected data that will form the basis of a social marketing campaign for Nuru’s healthcare team.  Behavior change communication requires thorough research but creates lasting impact by leveraging existing social motivators and instituting new social norms in the community rather than simply transmitting information.

This photo is was taken during one of the training session Fay conducted with the team.  The group is making note of what they saw during an observational walk around the community.