|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|
Observation is a standard anthropological method for gathering information. It is a relatively unobtrusive and highly effective method that is often combined with other methods, such as interviewing. Observations can be done in a structured way, using a set of preselected things to observe, or in an unstructured manner by noting down everything observed and then classifying the information according to relevant themes. When the study objectives are specific, clearly defined, and the time allowed for the study is limited, as is often the case in assessments of hygiene practices, structured observations are more appropriate than unstructured ones. Spot-check observations are the simplest type of structured observations that can be conducted during a healthwalk, as well as during household visits and when interviewing.
· To see where water and sanitation-related facilities are located and to obtain first hand information on hygiene practices in and around these locations.
· To find out about hygiene-related practices in and around people's homes.
A structured (often precoded) spot-check observation schedule may be prepared, that consists of a list of relevant things to look for. This should reflect local features and may be pretested during the training period (see Chapter 3). An example which was adapted for different settings and translated into the local languages during the development and testing of this handbook is included (see Worksheet 1). Make your own guide to suit your particular setting, and do not be confined to this example.
· Study the structured observation schedule well before conducting the observations. Use the skills you learned during the initial training (see Chapter 3).
· Be mentally prepared - concentrate.
· Try to be unobtrusive - for example, do not wave your checklist around or draw unnecessary attention to what you are doing.
· Look, listen, and learn.
· Write down your observations. All additional information to what is listed on the spot-check observation schedule should be included in your written notes with as much relevant detail as possible.
Management, Review, and Use of Information
Discuss everyone's observation notes in your study team and sort them by general themes and specific clusters of hygiene practices. Prepare a summary and keep it safe for crosschecking against information obtained by other methods in the final/overall analysis and inclusion in your study report. Define questions for further investigation arising from your discussion.