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Champions of Change : Children Lead the Way Towards Hygiene

State and Development Partner

Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Jharkhand

Save the Children

Problem

In rural India, diarrhoea is a more deadly killer than HIV, AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. This disease can be easily prevented by following basic practices of hygiene like washing hands with soap regularly, considered to be the most cost-effective solution to prevent diarrhoea and making sure drinking water is clean. Yet, the incidence of this disease remains high and often proves fatal when its victims are children.

Conventional Solution

Traditionally, hygiene and sanitation messaging are targeted towards adults, especially women as they manage the household. Children who po to school or play outside don't follow these practices despite being told (and sometimes coaxed) by parents. Hygiene bepins at home but can be reinforced if it is reiterated at school.

Behavioural Insights Based Solution

Government of India, has initiated the Stop Diarrhoea Initiative (SDI) which outlines a seven step plan for the prevention and control of diarrhoea. In addition to generating awareness among mothers, teachers, and FLWs, the initiative focuses on interpersonal communication through school activities among children in the age group of 5 to 15 years. Participatory learning approaches are used to train children to become agents of change for health and hygiene practices. Children's clubs are formed to run these activities, and tools like comic books, animated films, flipcharts, and games are used. Since the messaging has been broken down into seven simple steps that should be adopted in order to prevent and control diarrhoea, it becomes easy to grasp. The interactive nature in which the message is delivered makes it retainable. These activities use the behavioural principle of ‘role modelling’ where children are given the task to champion the change by imbibing these seven steps in their lives and propagating it to their peers as well as adults, which is not the usual norm. Positive peer pressure triggers their friends and classmates to model their behaviour and encourages a health practice among a demographic that is often not targeted in hygiene and sanitation initiatives.

Lesson

The primary lesson from this initiative is that role modelling is a powerful principle and children who are still forming their habits and opinions can be positively influenced if they are targeted at the rig ht time and in the right manner. As the message is delivered in an interactive participatory way, children beg in to take ownership and lea rn to steer themselves towards forming healthy habits.

"The WASH Programme has been immensely helpful as it promotes good behaviour practices among children, families and communities. This kind of behaviour change always takes time but when children are made the agents of change, this process becomes smooth, paving way for sustainable change in the community." - Moumita Saha, Advocacy, Campaign and Communication Coordinator, Save the Children.

Source : Stories of Change from India's Aspirational districts - NITI Aayog publication

Last Modified : 5/10/2022



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