A Short Step from Improved WASH to Healthier Communities

Background and Objectives


In Dry Zone, only 58 percent of households have year round access to protected water (including rainwater), about a fifth of households in Magwe are not using improved water sources, whereas in Mandalay it is 18 percent. In both regions, majority of households use strain through a cloth as water treatment, a practice which will not make water safe to drink. Only 3 percent of communities in rural areas have access to safe piped water. The most common cause of bacteriological contamination of water is exposure to fecal matter of human origin. Safe drinking water and sanitation are basic necessities for good health, yet twenty-nine percent do not have latrines in these two regions.

Additionally, in the Dry Zone area, nearly two in six children under age five are underweight, and percent present severe acute malnutrition. Approximately a third of children (31.2 percent) are stunted or too short for their age, and 36.6 percent low-birth weight. In Mandalay, 21 percent of children are underweight; 27 percent of total children population lives under the poverty line. The prevalence of stunting (or low height-for-age) is alarming high with over 30 percent of children being stunt. In Magwe, 27 percent of children living under the poverty line, 36 percent of children are low-height for their age. It is known that short-term consequences of under nutrition are mortality, morbidity and disability (under-five mortality is 46.1 per thousand in Dry Zone), and long-term consequences are adult size, intellectual ability, economic productivity, reproductive performance among others.


“A short step from improved WASH to healthier communities” aims at providing communities with safe drinking water, improved sanitation and high-quality hygiene education to give them basic for healthy and productive life. The project will follow an integrated approach with Behavior Change Communication (BCC) focusing on zero open defecation (ZOD), and provision of safe drinking water and sanitation systems through continuous community mobilization and engagement.


Behavior Change Communities

The project will implement Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), a systematic participatory approach consisting of sequential steps that will culminate in the development of an action plan for addressing the prevailing WASH problems in targeted communities. Throughout the project, PHAST will strongly campaign for Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) by conveying messages and activities to discourage people from relieving themselves in the bushes, the goal is to eliminate the unhealthy practice by end of the project, which is a serious health and socio-economic issue. The approach will also strongly focus on awareness and practice of protection in improved water sources, how those can be protected not only from pollution but also depletion, furthermore the project aims at covering total households to practice water treatment. This participatory approach will also seek to impact information on water, sanitation and hygiene, and inspire and motivate communities to change their behavior with a view of promoting wise and sustainable use of water. Understand how the same water is going round and round in nature, identify the different sources of water in nature and have a general awareness of the need to save (conserve) water to develop a sense of using water wisely in all their day-to-day activities.

Improving Sanitation

Improved sanitation can reduce diarrheal by more than a third, and can significantly lessen the adverse health impacts of other disorders responsible for death and disease among hundreds of children. The project – through PHAST – will campaign to mobilize and encourage households for zero open defecation (ZOD) and to acquire and use hygiene latrines to improve their quality of life and their communities. The project will support demonstration of construction household latrines for most vulnerable households; where beneficiaries will be identified by the community themselves. The project aims at providing small subsidy to the poorest of the poor and expects contribution from household in terms of materials and labor. The project will put lot of emphasis on behavior change to create demand for hygiene latrines, as well it will support with various hygienic latrine designs and technical support so household build their own latrines.

Community water supply and water safety planning

The project will work to improve access to safe drinking water aiming at decreasing the incidence and intensity of diarrhea and water-borne diseases in order to improve nutrition. By developing Water Safety Plans (WSPs) communities will be able to strength their capacities and capabilities for cost-effective management of their water supply resources; this will also help them sustain WASH services after the project phase out. The WSP approach in the assessment, proirotization and continuous management of risks to water safety from catchment to consumer. Experience shows that small community water supplies are more at risk of breakdown and contamination, leading to outbreaks of waterborne disease and gradual decline in their functionally and service. The targeted 212 villages are to apply Water Safety Plans the plans through demonstration projects. This demonstration project is to be used as “knowledge base” for community learning and replication; this will also help verify the effectiveness of the WSP.

Expected Outcomes

Water supply systems are improved and sustainably operating and providing safe drinking water
Community households practice improved positive hygienic behavior
Community households are building and using their own latrines (more latrines in the village)