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close this bookHygiene Evaluation Procedures - Approaches and Methods for Assessing Water - and Sanitation-Related Hygiene Practices (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1997, 124 pages)
close this folder5. Methods and tools for investigating the context
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentHealthwalk (systematic walkabout)
View the documentStructured (spot-check) observations
View the documentKey-informant interviewing
View the documentHistoryline
View the documentCommunity mapping
View the documentSeasonal calendar
View the documentGender roles/tasks analysis
View the documentAppraisal of the methods and tools

Community mapping

This method also derives from PRA and is widely used as part of other types of participatory approaches as well. Participants are asked to create a map, a representation of their territory, showing places that are important to them (marketplaces, mosques, churches, etc.) and including features of interest to the investigator(s), such as water sources and sanitation facilities.


· To find out what public facilities related to health and hygiene to which the community has access, such as where people draw water from.

· To find out about hygiene and sanitation resources in people's homes (latrines, rubbish pits, dishracks, etc.). This may include items that have been introduced or promoted by your project.


These will depend on the resources available. Maps can be made using sticks to sketch on the ground and placing stones and leaves to mark important places. If participants are familiar with using pens and paper and you can afford them. these can be used. Other alternatives are flip charts and marker pens, or blackboard and chalk.


The following guidelines may be useful to the facilitator:

· Introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the meeting and the planned activity. Speak clearly, in the local language.

· Explain the task. Allow ample time for the participants to discuss the concept of a map, to ask questions, and to make suggestions as to how they would go about drawing it and what materials they want to use. (Sometimes villagers do not want to use sticks and stones, choosing instead pencil and paper, or chalk and blackboard.)

· Listen, look, and learn.

· Encourage/stimulate discussion, but do not dictate what should and should not be on the map.

· Keep a list of participants to refer to later, when checking the information on the map against similar information obtained using other tools.

· When the map is finished, show it to the whole group and ask people to discuss any changes they think need to be made.

· Present the map to a larger group of study participants at another time. For example, you could start your next group discussion by giving feedback on what you have learned about local features and hygiene-related facilities using the map. This serves to stimulate participants' interest in the study.

Management, Review, and Use of Information

The map will contain information both about physical features of the locality and about people's attitudes to it. Often the process of making the map and finding out about the local context through the discussions is just as important as the information on the map itself.

BOX 15. An example of quantifiable information obtained from the maps shown on figure 4

Features and indicators



Homesteads (clusters of households)



Homesteads with young children



Latrines inside the compound



Latrines outside the compound



Washstands (for hand-washing after latrine use)



Maps can provide information that is easily quantifiable. For example, the number of homesteads in a village and even the hygiene-related facilities in each courtyard can be shown (for example, see Figure 4 which shows map from two villages in western Kenya where a number of facilities for improved hygiene, promoted by the SHEWAS project, were indicated). Information from these maps was tabulated as shown in Box 15. This helped the study team make informed sampling decisions for semi-structured interviews with mothers of young children. Here the number of homesteads in the two villages was found to be the same, but the number of families or households in each homestead/courtyard ranged from six to ten. However, the most valuable part of mapmaking is often not the tabulated information, but the analysis provided during the discussion of the maps, which helps to interpret the numbers and to understand their significance.

In some cases maps can include politically sensitive detail such as the marking of boundaries (see Box 16).

The map can be used as a monitoring tool for future assessments. As is the case with a historyline, the map can serve as a document in which a record can be kept of what existed at the time of your study. The map should be dated so that when revisiting the area and conducting follow-up assessments of hygiene practices, any changes that have taken place can be noted by comparing maps. For example, a map created two years after the ones shown in Figure 4 might show that several latrines have been constructed inside the homestead courtyards as a result of some solution arrived at by community members to get around the existing cultural taboo prohibiting in-laws from sharing latrines.

FIGURE 4. Maps of Masanga and Haudinga Villages, Kenya (Number of Participants/Informants = 21 and 19, Respectively) - from Tom Mboya's (SHEWAS Project) copy of the original

FIGURE 4. Maps of Masanga and Haudinga Villages, Kenya (Number of Participants/Informants = 21 and 19, Respectively) - from Tom Mboya's (SHEWAS Project) copy of the original