WASHplus Year Five Annual Report, October 2015

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In its Year Five Annual Report, WASHplus has stories to tell, results to share, events to celebrate, and studies that add to the evidence base. WASHplus activities serve as the backdrop for many stories: the Zambian school girl who has access to privacy and menstrual supplies when she needs them, the Malian household that can now build an improved latrine on their rocky soil, the mother in Bangladesh who understands the importance of a feces-free environment, the Nepali home breathing cleaner air as it trials an improved cookstove. And perhaps more compelling than the individual stories are the results the project is beginning to record through endline data collection in Kenya and formative research on school enrollment and in Zambia. Providing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure to schools is having a notable impact on enrollment. Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) may be inoculating communities exposed to cholera. Numbers also tell the story of the project’s impact. Look for a snapshot of those figures throughout the report.

The conclusion of field activities in Uganda and Zambia this year provided opportunities to reflect, celebrate accomplishments through end-of-project (EOP) events, and share lessons learned. Several articles were published this year in peer-reviewed journals and others submitted on topics ranging from consumer preferences and willingness to pay for improved cookstoves to habit formation and costing of handwashing. WASHplus also played a key role in preparing the joint document on WASH and nutrition for publication and distribution.

WASHplus’s focus on integrating WASH into other development initiatives enabled the project to get in on the ground floor on subjects that are gaining traction at USAID and globally, such as WASH and nutrition, neglected tropical diseases, and MHM. This integration focus dovetailed nicely with the project’s mandate to serve a technical leadership role, and project staff had many opportunities this year to share its work and lessons from the field on a global stage, strategize with partners on important advocacy issues, inform policy, and develop guidance in multiple countries. Also toward that end, WASHplus launched its first two learning briefs on small doable actions and WASH and nutrition. This series details the variety of approaches WASHplus uses to improve WASH and household air pollution (HAP) across its portfolio of countries.

And finally, it’s been an exciting year for innovation with pilot projects underway in Ethiopia and Bangladesh focusing on sanitation marketing and sand envelopment. These two efforts will add to WASHplus’s body of knowledge on sanitation innovation and aligns closely with USAID’s global interest on the topic. WASHplus is also documenting its fecal sludge management work in Madagascar to tell the next chapter in that story.

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WASHplus Presents at ETHOS 2016 Conference

The 2016 ETHOS Conference was held in Kirkland, Washington from Friday January 29th – Sunday January 31st, 2016. The conference aims to expand its reach from previous annual meetings, encouraging participation of Southern partners, international stoves experts, and development specialists with field experience in the transfer of cooking technologies.

At the ETHOS conference this year, WASHplus’s Household Energy Specialist Elisa Derby presented on the results of two consumer research studies on improved cookstoves in Bangladesh and Nepal, and the Cookstove Consumer Research Toolkit which is currently under development.

See the presentation here.

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Nepal: Clean Cookstove Demo

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People view improved cookstoves at an outdoor marketplace. 

As part of its cookstove study in Nepal, WASHplus is conducting clean cookstove demonstrations in Tanahu and Kavre districts. The demonstrations include food preparation of daal and rice, two local staples, and have attracted a lot of people eager to learn more. The in-home trials of five different types of improved stoves started in 140 homes in Nawalparasi and Dang districts in June, and will be completed this month. Families are trialing only one of the five stoves but will have the opportunity to purchase any of the five at the end of the trial: Prakti Double Burner Wood Stove with Chimney, Eco-Chula XXL, Alternative Energy Promotion Center-promoted local chimney stove, Xunda Field Dragon, and the Greenway Jumbo. The willingness to pay assessment includes a lump sum payment option, as well as an installment plan offered through a local microfinance institution.

WASHplus Participates in Panel on Behavior Change to Facilitate Clean Cooking

On Tuesday April 21, the USAID Translating Research into Action Project (TRAction) held a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to discuss behavior change strategies for clean cooking. The event highlighted lessons from a recently published special issue of the Journal of Health Communication, Advancing Communication and Behavior Change Strategies for Cleaner Cooking.

Household air pollution (HAP), caused by the indoor burning of wood, crop residue, and other solid fuels, causes millions of premature deaths every year. Correct and consistent use of clean cooking technologies and fuels can reduce household air pollution, but adoption requires significant changes to existing cooking behaviors. The special issue of the Journal of Health Communication presents findings on methods to promote the adoption of clean cooking technologies and fuels, and aims to advance our understanding of behavior change related to technology, the enabling environment, and demand creation.

Julia Rosenbaum, USAID/WASHplus Project Deputy Director, and Elisa Derby, the WASHplus Indoor Air Pollution Specialist, co-authored an article in the Journal of Health Communication titled “Behavior Change Communication: A Key Ingredient for Advancing Clean Cooking.” On April 21, Julia joined several guess editors and authors of the special issue to discuss lessons learned and next steps for behavior change in the clean cooking sector. This panel discussion on “Behavior Change for Clean Cooking: Current Knowledge and Next Steps” featured Jay Graham from George Washington University, Sumi Mehta from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Nigel Bruce from the University of Liverpool, Anita Shankar from Johns Hopkins University, and Jessica Lewis from Duke University.

During her presentation, Julia emphasized that behavior change is possible by showing examples from the water and sanitation, HIV, and nutrition sectors. She highlighted the need for comprehensive strategies including but not limited to, communication tactics, researching a range of actors on the values chain, and systematically understanding what motivates a particular target group to perform a behavior. One cross cutting approach to changing clean cooking behaviors is to identify small doable actions that are feasible and can have a significant health impact.

View a recording of an interview with Julia below. See her presentation: “Behavior Change Approaches to Facilitate Clean Cooking and Reduced Household Air Pollution” (download presentation slides).