|Hygiene Evaluation Procedures - Approaches and Methods for Assessing Water - and Sanitation-Related Hygiene Practices (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1997, 124 pages)|
|1. What is the HEP?|
The Hygiene Evaluation Procedures (HEP) handbook was conceived of as a field companion to Actions Speak: the study of hygiene behaviour in water and sanitation projects (Boot and Cairncross, 1993), a resource book prepared primarily for project managers and decision-makers. In contrast, the HEP's main focus is on the practical concerns of field personnel in water supply, sanitation, and health/hygiene education projects who want to design and conduct their own evaluations of hygiene practices.
This handbook was developed through processes of consultation with a number of field-level project staff working in Eastern Africa (rural Kenya, Tanzania, and selected urban areas in Ethiopia). Each consultation process involved a hygiene evaluation study designed and conducted by project staff with coordination, training, and supervision support from researchers whose backgrounds include anthropology, community development, and public health. Practical insights gained from these studies reflect the needs and concerns of the primary intended users. The draft HEP was field tested in India and Afghanistan prior to peer review and finalization.
The emphasis of the HEP is on how to gather, review, and interpret qualitative information. In line with related manuals and handbooks designed to provide technical/methodological support to health practitioners (see, for instance, Simpson-Herbert, 1983; Scrimshaw and Hurtado, 1987), the HEP handbook is designed to make qualitative research skills accessible to practitioners with little or no previous training in the social sciences. It is not for quantitative researchers who want to use statistical analysis. Qualitative information is gathered, analyzed, and interpreted differently from quantitative information, but this does not mean that the two types of information cannot be gathered and analyzed side-by-side to enable a fuller understanding of the issues under study.
The quality of information collected is critical in the systematic assessment of hygiene practices. A number of problems have been identified in relation to the quality of questionnaire-based data due to the limitations of the questionnaire as the sole instrument for information gathering (see Gill, 1993 for a concise analysis). The problems are more pronounced where sociocultural information is sought. However, qualitative information collected with the aim of designing good questionnaires for specific topics of enquiry can improve the effectiveness of questionnaires. This handbook was developed as a practical solution to the limitations of using a single method or instrument for information gathering, especially when trying to investigate sociocultural aspects of human behaviour that do not easily lend themselves to quantifiable measurement.
Like previous works on the subject of assessing hygiene practices, the HEP explores alternatives to the questionnaire-based survey design by examining other tools for the systematization of gathering chiefly qualitative information. We do not discourage you from using questionnaires. Many projects use and will continue to use questionnaire based surveys on which to base their decisions. However, we advocate the use of trustworthy qualitative information with which to design your questionnaire, and the use of other tools to complement your questionnaire. The triangulation of sources and methods is advocated as the best way to obtain a complete set of information on the issues under study.
In order to emphasize practicality, we have included:
· a variety of methods and tools from which you can choose and combine;
· appraisals of individual methods and tools to help you select the most appropriate combination(s) of methods for your purposes;
· examples from field experience including common mistakes and pit falls to provide insight into what a hygiene evaluation study may involve.