Connecting the hardware with the software in Mombasa

Over the next week, we will be featuring various aspects of the time spent doing hygiene training and business development with our partners in Mombasa, on the coast of Kenya. These segments were written and developed to describe the activities completed as well as to reflect about the strengths and challenges of the event. The first segment features hygiene training. While the hygiene training is a standardized process, it is fascinating to see the different focus of discussion which takes place depending on the makeup of the group participating and the particulars of their surroundings. The two organizations participating in the training included the Bangladesh and Makupa community based organizations (CBOs). Bangladesh is a slum settlement on the outskirts of the main town and Makupa is a market in the heart of Mombasa town. Maji na Ufanisi has recently finished constructing the Bangladesh sanitation facility and the Makupa facility is expected to open in the next month.

bangladesh rina

The trainings, workshops and interviews conducted centered on four main areas: 1) Hygiene, 2) Sanitary Pads, 3) Business Management, and 4) Governance.

Participatory Hygiene Workshop and Training 

The purpose of the participatory Hygiene Workshop and Training is to empower the participating CBO members to be hygiene advocates within the community, and to tie the physical infrastructure of the facilities to the community-level hygiene and sanitation benefits. Participation in the hygiene trainings allows the CBO community to reach consensus and engage in discussion about the modes of disease transmission in their community and what they can do prevent disease (primarily diarrheal).

The hygiene training is designed to operate in an interactive and small group format. The Mombasa hygiene training had 48 participants divided into 7 groups.

The most fun and engaging section of the workshop was when the groups learned how to make liquid soap, create hand washing songs (and dances), and hygiene posters. The liquid soap section utilizes locally accessible chemicals and an easy process to provide an opportunity for the CBO to expand its portfolio of micro-businesses while at the same time providing an inexpensive way to ensure soap is always at the facilities. The training participants received 2 baggies of soap to take home and use and each CBO received several bottles of soap for use in the facilities to support the hygiene goals and messaging posted within them. The hand washing songs are intended to solidify the idea that the minimum hand washing time with soap is 20 seconds. The groups were each directed to create songs lasting 20 seconds, which incorporate the 5 key times of hand washing which are discussed during this activity. The participants can create the songs in Kiswahili or English and the enthusiasm and energy is very infectious. They also created hygiene posters by thinking through what they would say to others to help motivate and remind them to practice good hygiene behaviors. They are given a set of large pictures that correspond to hygiene behaviors in the community and they write messages on the pictures, which can then serve as hygiene promotion posters.

bangladesh soap

Additional Observations and Notes from the Lead Hygiene Trainer:

  • Rina observed several interesting aspects about this hygiene training. As compared to other trainings this group never used the card depicting the use of SODIS and the topic was never discussed. (The SODI method uses the power of the sun to kill the majority of bacteria in the water. This method can be effective but is prone to operator error and the intervention of nature through cloud cover.)
  • In regards to water treatment, it was the general consensus that boiling water is the easiest way to make water safe. The overall sense regarding the use of WaterGuard is that there is constant confusion about how to properly use it and that they just preferred to boil their water. They also mentioned that another reason they prefer to boil water is because when they are done cooking the have some remaining hot coals and so they put a sofria of water on the coals. This is concerning however because the remaining coals may not be enough to bring the water to a rolling boil as is necessary for purification. The financial savings of using WaterGuard was discussed later in the training.
  • Also, the topic of leaky tins and home water storage was discussed because it became apparent that a few people knew about them and used them while there were several people who expressed that they did not know what they were or did not know how to properly use them. It was a common statement that people did not have them in their homes.
  • Regarding the newly constructed Maji na Ufanisi facility, there was extensive discussion that the community very rarely uses it for its toilet purposes. The primary reason for this seemed to be that they are satisfied with the pit latrines that they have free access to and did not feel the need to spend money on an improved facility. However, when discussing the picture card of a very dirty latrine there was common discussion of a specific toilet in the community that was very dirty.  The use of the facility was also discussed in the “Overcoming barriers” section. The group felt that using the Maji facility was hard to do but a solution identified was that the community needed to be mobilized again to increase usage.
  • Rina felt that the role playing and hand washing songs had the most engagement by the participants. There was lots of discussion that the role playing was actually hard because they had learned so many things, they felt like they could not tell their peers all of the knowledge in a short conversation.
  • Another lively discussion took place regarding the hand washing time of 20 second. The participants talked about how rigid this 20 second time-frame was and how for oil or other dirty things that people should use more time to wash their hands. Because 20 seconds is merely the minimum recommended amount of time for hand washing, this suggests that we need to be clear that taking longer is fine but not always necessary. 
  • The final hygiene observation reported by the participants is that soap is not available for community members every day. They identified that the behavior is good but hard to actually complete due to the lack of soap.
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