|Hygiene Evaluation Procedures - Approaches and Methods for Assessing Water- and Sanitation-Related Hygiene Practices (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1997, 124 pages)|
|5. Methods and tools for investigating the context|
To understand hygiene and sanitation issues fully, it is necessary to explore people's ideas, beliefs and knowledge, and their activities. There are many different ways to collect information on the sociocultural and physical context in which hygiene practices occur. For example, it is not enough to describe existing methods of excrete disposal or people's personal hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, without finding out what physical, social, cultural, or economic constraints might be operating locally to cause people to do what they do. People in the study population can be involved in the investigation, analysis, and interpretation of their own situation. This is important, because they will then have an interest in, and a sense of ownership of the information gathered, and they will perhaps have an interest in making use of the study findings if they are presented in accessible forms.
This chapter describes some of the investigative and analytical tools we have found to be very useful for investigating the context in which hygiene practices occur, and the methods for using those tools. It may be worth noting the distinction made between the terms method and tool. Method refers to the way of doing something while tool refers to the instrument used for doing it. For example, a questionnaire is an instrument for collecting information and different methods can be applied when using it: it can be used by the respondent to fill in the answers to the questions herself or himself (self-reporting method), it can be administered by an interviewer who asks the questions and marks the answers given by the respondent on a precoded sheet (formal method), or it can be used as a guide by an interviewer who asks open-ended questions for the respondent to answer in an unstructured way (informal method). A description of each tool (including materials used apart from notebooks and pens which each member of the study team should have) and the method of using it (set of procedures) is provided. You will find that some tools, such as observation and interview schedules, are used for information gathering while others such as Maps, seasonal calendars and historylines are created during information gathering and are more participatory. These participatory tools have wider uses:
· They facilitate feedback of the findings to the study population, thereby ensuring participant checking of the information.
· They provide accessible ways of storing/documenting study findings for reference in future investigations or follow-up action.
· They can be used for monitoring project activities and changes in hygiene practices.
There are many more participatory tools that can be used in the investigation and analysis of hygiene practices. This handbook is by no means exhaustive of available methods/tools. The methods/tools described can be adapted and modified to suit particular situations and are thus flexible. What is important is that each method and tool that you use is described carefully and the information obtained is analyzed rigorously. You may also wish to communicate your experiences with these methods/tools or adaptations thereof (see Evaluation Sheet at the end of this handbook). At the end of this Chapter and the next you will find appraisals of each method/tool described (see Tables 3 and 4). This will help you choose and combine methods/tools informedly.