A Learning Brief on Small Doable Actions: A Feasible Approach to Behavior Change

The USAID-funded WASHplus project aims to improve the supply and quality of water and sanitation facilities and hygiene practices, and reduce household air pollution. This involves facilitating better access to hardware and services while focusing on approaches to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related practices. The overarching WASHplus behavior change approach is built around the notion that people rarely go from current practice to ideal
practice at once, for example, from a sedentary lifestyle to five aerobic exercise sessions a week, or from open defecation to consistent use of a flush toilet connected to a septic system. Many factors influence the performance or nonperformance of a behavior. Therefore, WASHplus’s
behavior change approach identifies and addresses the key factors most influential in improving particular WASH practices of communities, families, and individuals.

SDA rainwater harvestingThe Small Doable Action Approach Improving Practices of Individuals and Households
WASHplus incorporates a small doable action approach to change WASH and household air pollution practices in its global- and country-level activities. Rather than promoting the ideal WASH practices (e.g., build and use a flush toilet or insist that all family members wash hands at all five critical junctions using running water and soap), we construct a continuum of behaviors that span from unacceptable to ideal. Small doable actions (SDAs) are behaviors that are deemed feasible to perform in resource-constrained settings, from the householder point of view, and effective at personal and public health levels. Behaviors that meet these two criteria—feasible and effective—are considered small doable actions and are included in the menu of options for WASH behavioral improvement. Stepping stone behaviors that may be on the pathway but do not directly yield impact are not considered SDAs, (e.g., buying cement or singing the happy hygiene song). To move toward the ideal, WASHplus supports improving WASH behaviors, one SDA at a time.

Download the Learning Brief – Small Doable Actions: A Feasible Approach to Behavior Change.

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