Young Tanzanians use new skills to identify causes of unhealthy hygiene behaviours

3rd June 2019

For two weeks, 30 employees from our corporate partner RB are collaborating with 30 young Raleigh Tanzania Society (RTS) volunteers through our ‘Healthier Lives; Happier Homes’ project. Volunteers will be utilising their skills and knowledge of the local context to help RB employees find ways to boost the uptake of healthy hygiene and sanitation behaviours and stop the spread of easily preventable illnesses in rural communities.

A key part to this project is the work which has already been carried out by some of our amazing RTS volunteers. Between mid-February and April this year, 12 young volunteers from RTS conducted formative research on sanitation and hygiene behaviours in a staggering 21 rural communities in the Kongwa and Kilombero Districts of Tanzania.

To do this, the young Tanzanian volunteers taking part in the RB project engaged in training and active learning to get the skills they needed to be able to deliver crucial insights into the sanitation and hygiene behaviours in these rural Tanzania communities.

Over almost two months, the 12 young volunteers trained in and used a comprehensive combination of technical research skills, including observations, focus group discussions, routine scripting, social network mapping, drawing, product analysis, and touch-point mapping, to find out what was restricting the sustained uptake of safe hygiene behaviours in these communities.

This enabled the young Tanzania volunteers to better understand the underlying challenges that children who take part in Raleigh Tanzania’s School Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (SWASH) programme face in spreading and supporting the uptake of safe behaviours in the home. It also provided an opportunity to gain further insights into the key drivers behind unhealthy hygiene behaviours in the target communities.

What the young volunteers found was that respondents in the communities indicated that they felt constrained by economic status, lack of hygiene facilities and resources, and irregular water supply. These, combined with an expectation for youth deference to elders and reluctance to change habits, contributed to a lack of perceived ability for youth to spread positive sanitation and hygiene practices. However, by identifying and building relationships with key stakeholders and designing more creative ways to disseminate information, their findings suggest the impact of youth in improving village hygiene can be maximized through the RB project.

Without developing their research skills, the RTS members would not have been be able to deliver the insights which RB employees will use over the next two weeks to create effective interventions to spread the use of good WASH practices in the communities where Raleigh work and beyond.

RTS member and RB project participant George said that the formative research had given him various skills which he was able to utilise, include improved planning and time management: “I am now able to ask deeper questions and get answers from not only direct questioning but also through discussion and observation.”

The RTS volunteers and RB employees are now working together and utilising this exciting new research to create new behaviour change interventions that will subsequently be incorporated into Raleigh Tanzania’s WASH programming later in 2019. These new approaches will be trialled and tested, before their effectiveness is evaluated, and will help create healthier communities in rural Tanzania.

You can follow the progress of the ‘Healthier Lives; Happier Homes’ project and the #RBGlobalVolunteerChallenge over the next fortnight via our website and on social media channels.

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