WASH messages gets Wainess into hand washing practice

THROUGH ; Health Communication for Life ( HC4L )

This Project is sponsored by: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

  • WASH messages gets Wainess into hand washing practice
  • WASH messages gets Wainess into hand washing practice
  • WASH messages gets Wainess into hand washing practice
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Mrs. Wainess Nkhata is a mother of six children living in Yudeya village in Kasungu district in central Malawi. Her family is part of the poor people living in rural areas who make up 80% of the country's population. Malawi has nearly 17 million people and those living in rural areas barely access quality pro-health structures like safe water taps and toilets. In May 2018, Wainess became a member of Kachokolo Radio Listening Club (RLC), which is one of the community structures in the district established by CRECCOM under Health Communication for Life (HC4L) project.

HC4L is a USAID-funded social behavior change communication (SBCC) project aiming at increasing demand for quality priority health services in Malawi. The RLCs in the project spread various health messages from the eight essential health package (EHP) focus areas. Interpersonal communications are taped from Moyo ndi Mpamba radio programs which the RLCs listen to weekly during community awareness meetings organized by the RLCs to bring community members into dialogue on health issues affecting them. One of the focus areas is Water Sanitation and Hygiene where one of the key behavior changes being promoted is washing hands after using the toilet .

Before becoming a member of the RLC, hand washing with soap especially after using toilet was not a practice taken seriously in Wainess' family which led to frequent occurrences of diarrhea in the family. Describing the situation before RLC intervention, Wainess said "nikachokaku toilet, ndimangofika kaya mpodyansima, koma nditamvera zimenezi kubungwe lathuli lomvera wailesi, n'daona kuti oh oh, kodi ukachoka ku toilet uzisamba m'manja" ("after using the toilet, I used to go straight to the food, but when I listened to this message at our radio listening club, I was like oh oh, so one needs to wash hands after using the toilet huh").

She saw the need to have good hand washing materials at her home during one of the RLC sessions. During the session they listened to a number of messages on the need to wash hands with soap after visiting the toilet, before preparing food, before eating food, after changing nappies and before breastfeeding a child.

After listening to the radio program, she went home and agreed with her husband to create a tippy tap behind their toilet. The husband used plastic bottles and a few sticks to create the tippy tap. This way the family could practice hand washing after using the toilet. Her family is now protecting themselves from diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene. Wainess is an example of many beneficiaries of HC4L project who have adopted positive health seeking practices following the SBCC interventions being conducted by the project.

Story By: Blessme Phiri