Using Immersive Research to Understand Rural Sanitation: Lessons from the Swachh Bharat Mission in India
This paper focuses on an Immersive Research Approach designed by Praxis, the Sanitation Learning Hub at IDS and WaterAid whereby researchers lived in villages in recently declared open defecation free districts, to gain an in-depth understanding of ground realities and community perspectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin.
The study shed light on key aspects and dynamics influencing local ownership, behaviour change and construction quality, and also revealed multifaceted exclusion processes. The immersive approach helped build trust with villagers and allowed a unique insight into the SBM in its ‘real life’ context, necessary to explore hidden dynamics and diverse perspectives, and understand the complexities involved.
Despite some practical challenges, undertaking immersive studies and experiences would be beneficial for improving the Swachh Bharat Mission and other sanitation programmes. The approach could be adopted pragmatically, but always respecting some basic principles and ethical behaviour.
UNICEF Field Notes on Community Approaches to Total Sanitation: Learning from Five Country Programmes
Developed primarily for UNICEF staff and its partners, these field notes can be used to learn about specific aspects of Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programmes in different contexts. For example, learning on CATS monitoring was captured in the Zambia and Mali cases, while the Philippines and Nepal have good experiences on strengthening sub-national governance for sanitation.
The Haiti and Mali cases meanwhile capture lessons on improving and maintaining CATS effectiveness (defined as the number of communities ‘triggered’ that went on to become open defecation free [ODF]). The issue of what happens beyond ODF certification is addressed in Mali and in the Philippines.
In addition, application of components of Social Norms Theory to strengthen CATS programming was also captured in some of the cases – notably in Nepal and Zambia. Experiences on implementing CATS after humanitarian crises can be learnt from the Philippines and Haiti. With regards to equity, Mali has experience in working to leave no community behind, while Nepal has developed a programme that resulted in mobilising support for the most vulnerable households.
With PhotoVoice research participants can express themselves in a visual medium instead of using words, which is beneficial for those who can’t communicate their WASH needs as easily or find it difficult to speak about taboo issues.
This Sanitation Learning Hub Learning Paper explores the potential of an innovative participatory visual method known as PhotoVoice to help to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030. The paper outlines what PhotoVoice is, and shares learning relating to its use in the WASH sector around the world for research, programming and advocacy.
It draws on lessons learned from these experiences to show how PhotoVoice can be used for learning in WASH, how it can be used with other methodologies to explore topics which are neglected or taboo, and the benefits and drawbacks of PhotoVoice to consider. It includes practical recommendations for using PhotoVoice in WASH and the ethical considerations to make when it is used. The paper reflects on how PhotoVoice is important for exploring new frontiers in WASH, and can help us gain a deeper understanding into how people experience, interpret and respond to their realities.
This third edition of the The Sage Handbook of Action Research presents an updated version with new chapters covering emerging areas in healthcare, social work, education and international development, as well as an expanded ‘Skills’ section which includes new consultant-relevant materials. Building on the previous editions, Hilary Bradbury has carefully developed this edition to ensure it follows in their footsteps by mapping the current state of the discipline, as well as looking to the future of the field and exploring the issues at the cutting edge of the action research paradigm today.
This resource includes six examples of where slippage has occurred and what has been done to reverse it. It aims to lay the groundwork for more systematic learning among practitioners.
There is widespread recognition that slippage of open defecation free (ODF) status is a challenge to sustainability across many programmes and contexts. Much has been written about how Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and other sanitation programmes can be set up for sustainability in order to prevent slippage from happening but there is little documented evidence on how slippage can be reversed.
This edition of the Sanitation Learning Hub Frontiers of Sanitation examines what can be done if slippage has already happened. This resource has two parts – the first looks at how slippage is defined, presents a framework for identifying slippage patterns, and revisits the factors known to contribute to slippage. The second section provides six case examples of field experience of slippage and the actions taken to reverse it. It is hoped that this review lays the groundwork for more systematic learning and sharing on slippage to inform current and future programming and practice.
Support Mechanisms to Strengthen Equality and Non-Discrimination (EQND) in Rural Sanitation (Part 2 of 2)
Looking at 50 programmes that used support mechanisms, this rapid review emphasises the importance of monitoring, evaluating and knowledge-sharing processes in building an evidence base for facilitating equitable rural sanitation outcomes.
The benefits of conventional rural sanitation programming and service delivery are often not spread equally, and risk leaving disadvantaged groups behind. Greater attention needs to be paid to these groups to achieve adequate and equitable access to sanitation for all, and an end to open defecation.
This issue of the Sanitation Learning Hub's Frontiers of Sanitation (the second in a two-part series) examines support mechanisms designed to help disadvantaged groups access and use hygienic toilets as part of efforts to drive more equitable rural sanitation outcomes. It covers the latest thinking on the opportunities and challenges of support mechanisms, and explores what works remains to be done.
The issue uses a broad definition of ‘support’ for creating equitable outcomes. Although financial and physical subsidies often come to mind, a broader practical understanding of support needs to encompass both ‘hardware’ mechanisms and ‘software’ approaches, as well as various combinations of the two.
The ‘Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) Nigeria project –implementation, learning, research, and influence on practice and policy’, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, inclusion and sustainability of total sanitation approaches for the poor and underserved in Ekiti and Enugu States in Nigeria, and contribute to wider national and regional good practice.
Sanitation Marketing, also known as ‘SanMark’, is an emerging field that combines social and commercial marketing approaches to scale up demand and supply of improved sanitation facilities. It involves a more comprehensive demand and supply strengthening strategy drawing on social and commercial marketing as well as behaviour change communication approaches.
As part of the Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) project, WaterAid Nigeria, in collaboration with community members in two states (Enugu and Ekiti)developed an affordable, accessible and durable sanitation product named the Water Easy Toilet (WET).
The project also aimed to generate learning on another sanitation approach – Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS). CLTS is one popular approach to increasing sanitation coverage. CLTS works with an entire community to identify the negative effects of poor sanitation, especially the practice of open defecation, and empowers them to collectively find solutions.
In this WASH Talks video, Robert Chambers talks about the use of Rapid Action Learning (RAL) workshops, immersive research and participatory mapping methodologies in India with the purpose of checking what is actually happening on the ground, and learning from this, in relation to the national Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) (SBM-G) (clean India mission).
These methodologies have been developed and implemented with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), WaterAid, Delhi University and the Indian government.
Over the past few years, the Sanitation Learning Hub, in collaboration with the Government of India, Praxis, WSSCC and WaterAid India, have been developing Rapid Action Learning approaches. Multiple approaches have been trialled, with flexible formats, but the essential criteria is that learning is timely, relevant and actionable.
These learning approaches are the focus of the latest edition of the Frontiers of Sanitation series. This Frontiers explains the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches trialled and sets out a challenge to those working in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to:
- Reflect on what, for you, constitutes rigour.
- Adopt and adapt approaches to fit your context and needs.
- Develop your own approaches.
- Record your experiences and lessons learnt.
- Take the time to share your experiences with us. (Email the Hub on SLH@ids.ac.uk)
To commemorate and reflect on the publication, the Hub sat down with colleagues and partners WaterAid India and WSSCC to discuss lessons learned and the future of Rapid Action Learning. You can watch these five short videos in the playlist below.
In this episode, the Action Research Podcast team has an insightful conversation with Dr. Danny Burns and Dr. Marina Apgar.
Danny and Marina are working on a large-scale system-changing project called Child Labour: Action-Research-Innovation in South and South-Eastern Asia [CLARISSA]. Started in 2016, CLARISSA has a team of more than 150 members. In this episode, they discuss what AR looks like on the ground, and specifically in a large-scale project. What does the creation process look like? How does this huge collaborative team work reflexively in this AR framework?
This conversation starts with a lightning round where they dive into questions such as: what is systemic AR? (5:17) what does collaboration look like in systemic AR? (6:34) what is IDS? what makes IDS a fertile ground for this sort of AR? (7:40) And, what is your greatest critique of AR? (12:20).
In the later segment, they dive deeper to learn more about CLARISSA, which is built on three core values (but not limited to them): 1. child-centred, 2. participation, and 3. being truly integrated (16:55). This is a really big project that involves a lot of stakeholders, participants, and organizations who work collaboratively in variety of different ways (26:57). How does the creation of processes look in this space? To understand this, the team asks questions about how the planning process, facilitation and relationship building looks (36:11).
The Action Research Podcast team wraps up the conversation by raising one of the classic and significant question that we are trying to explore layer by layer in our podcast-Reflexivity! One of the core components of PAR is reflexivity. Find out how Marina and Danny engage reflexively in such a huge collaborative team in CLARISSA (48:00), by tuning in!
Apgar, J. M., Allen, W., Albert, J., Douthwaite, B., Paz Ybarnegaray, R., & Lunda, J. (2017). Getting beneath the surface in program planning, monitoring and evaluation: Learning from use of participatory action research and theory of change in the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. Action Research, 15(1), 15–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476750316673879
Zimowski, P. F., Perry, D., Bales, D. K., Davis, D. T., Mattar, D. M. Y., Burrows, H., Moore, H., Ochen, V., Christopher, E., Jewell, S., Smiragina-Ingelström, P., Cockayne, D. J., Setter, C., Ariyo, D., Kumar, V., Otiende, S., Trodd, D. Z., McQuade, D. A., Greer, B. T., … Liwanga, R.-C. (2021). Child Labour Special Edition: JOURNAL OF MODERN SLAVERY A multidisciplinary exploration of human trafficking solutions. Publisher: SlaveFree Today. 6(4), 152.
This article describes the exploratory and preparatory phase of a research project designed to use co-operative enquiry as a method for transformative and participatory action research into relations between donors and recipients in two developing countries, Bolivia and Bangladesh. It describes the origins of the idea, the conceptual challenges that the authors faced in seeking funding, and what they learned from this first phase. The authors analyse why the researchers, as well as the potential subjects of the research, were uncomfortable with the proposed methodology, including the challenges arising from their own positions and the highly sensitive nature of the topic. They explain why they decided to abandon the project, and they reach some tentative conclusions concerning the options for participatory action learning and research in development practice.
Opening the Doors to the Hidden WASH Needs of Women from the Onset of the Perimenopause in Urban Ghana
Recent debates on ensuring equity and inclusion in sanitation and hygiene provision in the Global South have begun to explore the needs of excluded groups of individuals. Yet, the sanitation and hygiene needs of perimenopausal (PM) women, who are making the transition to menopause, are neglected.
This study explores this new field of research and aims to provide recommendations to meet the sanitation and hygiene needs of PM women. Opening the doors to these needs warrants the use of adaptive, participative, feminist methodologies, placing PM women at the centre of the study to enable them to share their experiences. This research uses a six-stage case study methodology: a literature review, a phenomenological review, research design, case study selection, data collection, and data analysis.
This research identified several sanitation and hygiene needs as crucial to PM women’s health. This research concludes that the hidden sanitation and hygiene needs of PM women require participatory techniques to reveal them. Relationships with certain people allow PM women to discuss and meet the sanitation and hygiene needs to a degree. PM symptoms vary in nature, between women and day to day. This research demonstrates that the sanitation and hygiene sector needs to become more attentive to bathing and laundry issues overall, learning from the needs of PM women.
This paper explores the idea of learning from failure in the sanitation sector. The recent trend of ‘admitting failure’ in aid and development forces sanitation practitioners, researchers and policymakers to ask if we can and should address failure more openly in order to improve our work.
The ideas in this paper developed from discussions at a workshop on ‘learning from failure’ convened by the UK Sanitation Community of Practice (SanCoP) designed to kickstart this debate. We first discuss the concept of failure itself and identify different approaches to learning from failure relating to sanitation.
These include acknowledging past failures in order to learn and adapt, and planning for ‘safe’ future failures through deliberate experimentation and innovation. We also argue that a series of further steps are required: understanding relevant previous approaches to learning from failure in the sector; recognising different types of failure; seeking different actors’ perspectives on failure; and framing the debate about failure constructively rather than negatively.
In the second part of the paper we examine different practical examples of how actors in the sanitation sector have tried to learn from failure, to assess how this happened and what changes resulted. In the final section of the paper we conclude with suggestions for how individuals and organisations working in sanitation and international development more widely can learn from failure. We also propose SanCoP itself as one example of a ‘safe space’ in which people can meet to discuss and learn from failure.
As a sector, we want to be better at reaching the unreached and not only ensure that the rights of people who may be disadvantaged are met, but also make better use of their skills, knowledge and contributions as part of sanitation programmes globally.
A well-facilitated Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme that proactively considers and involves disadvantaged people has been shown to have many benefits. Absence of such programmes can often have negative impacts and make it difficult to sustain open defecation free status.
This issue of the Sanitation Learning Hub's Frontiers of Sanitation looks at who should be considered potentially disadvantaged, how they can effectively participate, and how to address diverse needs in order to make processes and outcomes sustainable and inclusive. Using a range of examples from Global Sanitation Fund programmes that were part of a recent study on equality and non-discrimination, it explores the challenges that may occur and concludes with suggested good practices that can strengthen processes to the benefit of all.