Tag archives: drowning prevention

#WEDC41 Part 3: Behaviour change tools to save lives

In July, I spent two weeks in Kenya at the WEDC conference in Nakuru and visiting sanitation companies, Sanergy and Sanivation, and the newly-established sanitation research group at Meru University of Science and Technology. This is the third in a five-part series of blogs about that conference and those visits. You can see the earlier posts about (the lack of) government support for container-based sanitation businesses here and about WASH failures here.

Wash’EM is a new tool to support the design of handwashing programmes in emergency settings. The Wash’EM team presented the tool at the WEDC conference in Nakuru, allowing attendees to try it out on a demonstration scenario, to understand the aims of the project and identify ways that it could be made easier to use. The tool provides step-by-step guides that allow formative research methods to be applied rapidly in emergencies by teams whose primary skill set is not these kind of research methods. The results of this work, which is expected to take about a week for a single community, are then put into the Wash’EM software which gives recommendations of what to include in hygiene programmes.

Predictably, one of the questions asked was “Could this be used in non-emergency contexts?” The team agreed that Wash’EM could be applied outside of the emergencies although it was not the primary target as there is more time in non-emergency contexts to collect data and design hygiene programmes. I have no doubt that if it is successfully employed in emergency contexts it will be applied elsewhere. After all, it is not only humanitarians working in emergencies that often find themselves with a lack of knowledge, expertise and time when faced with a behaviour change project.

One of the things that I found exciting about these guides was that they demystified the black arts of behaviour change and put them into a starter pack that was easily accessible for non-specialists. Behaviour change is not only a challenge for water and sanitation programmes. Susanne Lee recently identified drowning as an “emerging threat” in water safety. In drowning prevention, behaviour change is a topic that comes up occasionally when we discuss water safety messages. Normally the extent of conversation on the topic is “behaviour change is hard”. Globally, there are hardly any behaviour change experts looking at drowning prevention, though Kyra Hamilton of Griffith University and Amy Peden of RLSS Australia and James Cook University are doing pioneering behaviour change research on driving through floodwaters in Australia.

It would be wonderful to see a similar “behaviour change for drowning prevention” starter toolkit developed. Discussing this with the team behind Wash’EM, they were positive about the idea. Four of the five modules covered in the step-by-step guides would be relevant and they did not think that too many changes would be required to make them usable in an LMIC drowning prevention context. A simple set of tools to collect data on risk perception, motives, personal histories and touchpoints would be a great starting point for drowning prevention researchers to produce evidence-based behaviour change programmes for drowning prevention. While a toolkit like this would not be a replacement for expert analysis of behaviour change requirements in drowning prevention, a basic understanding of the kinds of data that are useful to collect and how to collect them could form the foundation for practitioners to start collecting the data that experts need to design successful interventions.

Behaviour change IS hard, but that isn’t an excuse for us not to work on it. Drowning prevention is in the fortunate position that we can learn from water and sanitation and other sectors where behaviour change programmes have been run for many years. Whether in water and sanitation or in drowning prevention, more of us need to understand the basics of how we can alter the way that people behave when it comes to water and tools like Wash’EM can help.

How to be an ally

Following on from the publication of the #WDP36 list two weeks ago, some men have asked what they can do to support women around them and increase the representation of women in leadership positions.

Old rich white men dominate drowning prevention. Young black people dominate the drowning fatalities. If the drowning prevention community wants to achieve a significant global reduction in drowning, then the community needs to be more inclusive and more diverse. It needs to listen to voices from different countries, diverse backgrounds, different genders, and different experiences.

The fact that people are asking how they can support that is testament to their commitment to improve diversity. The question is what that commitment should look like. Let’s start by defining the problem:

Think about the positions that you hold on committees, in working groups and in leadership positions. In many cases, you have that position of power or responsibility because you were in the right place at the right time. Maybe someone who knows you and thought you would do a good job put you forward for the role. After all, it’s not what you know but who you know? That’s the problem – not everyone knows the right people so then what happens? They never get a chance at that position you hold. It’s important to understand that your status as a man and particularly as a white man gives you access to certain opportunities that women and people of colour may not get. That is not to say that you are not a suitable candidate for those roles, but you are not the only suitable candidate. Other suitable candidates never get the opportunity to take on those roles because they are not in the right place at the right time because they don’t know the right people.

Diversity needs active supporters, allies if you will and a large part of that role is recognising how opportunities can be shared to a more diverse group of people.

Here are five steps to becoming an ally, whether to women, people of colour or other groups underrepresented in leadership.
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#WDP36 – More than a popularity contest…

In 2015, the first Women in Global Health list was published. It was a list of 100 leading women working in global health, and it has since grown to include more notable women in the field. It was started by Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She was bored of attending conferences and panels where she was the only woman speaker. She decided that she needed to showcase women in global health and asked her Twitter followers to nominate women to the list. The idea caught on and the list grew.

At the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017 in Vancouver, Canada, a similar Twitter campaign was run using #WDP36 to find a list of 36 leading women in drowning prevention. Why 36? Because some amazing women work to prevent 360,000 drowning deaths every year and that’s something to shout about. Women were nominated on Twitter with the only criteria being that they play an active role at the forefront of drowning prevention. The aim of the list is increase visibility of women working in drowning prevention, highlight the contribution of women in advancing both research and practice and to offer role models to young women. Women are listed alphabetically by surname. Like the Women in Global Health list, the Women in Drowning Prevention can grow with time. This is only the beginning…

Women in drowning prevention WCDP17

Caroline Lukaszyk, Tessa Clemens, Alison Mahoney and Amy Peden were the four presenters in the Non-Fatal Drowning Data session at WCDP2017

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