Empowering Community Members to Eliminate Waterborne Illnesses
Committed to empowering community members with the essential tools and education to sustainably integrate safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs into their homes and schools, PWW introduces the Community Education Program (CEP).
The CEP supports community-wide prevention and elimination of waterborne illnesses through the correct use of water treatment and storage technologies, sanitation practices, and hygienic behavior change. It is an integral component to supporting WASH efficacy by developing local capacity, strengthening community ownership, and facilitating generational impact.
The program was developed with the intention of bolstering community engagement in order to inform and legitimize a participatory decision-making process that is based on a shared understanding of the WASH reality in Limonade.
When respected and known members of the community accept leadership roles, social cohesion is reinforced and families are more comfortable and receptive to recognizing mutual goals and perspectives, uncovering values, sharing problem identification, understanding WASH complexities, and strengthening trust.
The CEP is community-driven and ultimately community-led, with PWW supporting the needs of community members. The program elements are designed in collaboration with local community leaders, based on the identified needs of the community(s). Final course curriculum, content, and materials are executed in accordance with local guidance.
- Increase reliable access to safe water.
- Improve positive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) behaviors.
- Grow awareness of water contamination – causes, effects, and prevention.
- Reduce community-wide exposure to waterborne diseases.
- Develop skills and knowledge about water treatment and conservation.
- Support girls and young women with safe and healthy menstrual hygiene management (MHM) practices.
The CEP Model expands local WASH capacity and facilitates the delivery of WASH trainings to multiple groups of community members, at the same time period, in multiple locations, resulting in an overall increased collective impact.
The CEP concept is founded upon the goal of developing a pool of local WASH paraprofessionals made up of respected and motivated community leaders. PWW selects, trains, and supports the designated group of individuals, known as Lead Community Agents (LCAs), to serve as local WASH leaders, knowledgeable about effective WASH practices and able to teach these practices.
LCAs are chosen from established Community Agents (CAs), volunteers who were previously selected by the community and have been trained by PWW to support the community’s safe water program. CAs are assigned to 3-5 families each and support the correct and consistent use of safe water technologies and healthy WASH practices among these families. They also work closely with PWW to provide long-term follow-up and monitoring.
The LCA selection process strongly encourages female participation. Ensuring a greater quota of females (at least 30%) among the LCAs contributes to strengthening the leadership and empowerment of girls and women. This gender-responsive approach supports better analysis of WASH issues that particularly affect females, as they are especially vulnerable to deficiencies in access to safe water and sanitation. The CEP aims to facilitate deeper reflections on effective and adapted solutions in order to proactively address the WASH challenges unique to females.
PWW has developed a rigorous training approach, adapted to different community age groups, to ensure that the curriculum can be effectively delivered with high quality by the LCAs.
PWW provides strategic guidelines, training sessions, materials, ongoing supervision, and mentorship to LCAs who will, in turn, conduct WASH training sessions to individuals across targeted communities in order to reinforce the correct and consistent use of in-home water filters and to advance safe WASH practices among community members.
LCAs receive extensive training related to fundamental WASH practices, including the following:
- Personal hygiene and handwashing
- Environmental hygiene and improved sanitation
- Menstrual hygiene management (MHM)
- Routes of transmission (how and why waterborne diseases are transmitted)
- Water contamination, treatment, and source protection
- COVID protection
- Gender equity
To support LCAs with the successful delivery of training programs, the CEP curriculum focuses on establishing core facilitation and group management skills. Program delivery methods are demonstrated, discussed, and practiced during the workshop and participants are provided with a comprehensive manual to use during group sessions. It is highly participatory to support maximum collaborative learning.
Guided by curriculum and materials provided by PWW, LCAs deliver trainings to fellow community members in a way that is appropriate and meaningful, supporting the promotion and advancement of good WASH practices and resulting in positive community behavioral changes.
LCAs train families in small groups of 15-20 individuals each. Each small group participates in one (1) training session per week, for four (4) weeks, covering a total of 10 WASH topics. Each training session runs 2-3 hours.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION (M&E)
M&E gauges knowledge change pertaining to WASH education as well as other indicators related to WASH programming. It helps to identify areas of program effectiveness as well as indicates where program and/or training improvements may be needed.
PWW’s M&E practices are conducted for three (3) years, post initial WASH implementation in a community, with regularly scheduled monitoring visits by PWW and CAs.
LCAs further enhance the M&E program, providing continuity between PWW and community members through regular follow-up with families and the utilization of a feedback mechanism from the community to PWW.
The following diagram demonstrates the flow of information between PWW, Community Agents (CAs), Lead Community Agents (LCAs), and the community:
COMING NEXT WEEK: CEP IN ACTION.
Read about the initial implementation of the CEP at the Adelphos School in Haiti.