Project Lead(s): Sheri Bastien
Worldwide, 1.1 billion people practice open defecation, resulting in diarrheal diseases – a leading cause of death among children under the age of five.
Open defecation is a major problem among rural Tanzania’s Maasai people, who are predominantly pastoralists. Hospital records in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) of Tanzania indicate that fecal-oral transmitted diarrheal diseases are consistently in the top 10 diagnoses for Maasai in this region.
Project SHINE (Sanitation and Hygiene INnovation in Education) sought to test an innovative, grassroots, participatory science education and social entrepreneurship model of health promotion as a means of engaging youth and communities to improve sanitation and hygiene in a rural and remote Tanzanian setting.
The key activities in the intervention were:
- Innovations in science education, including the use of the Foldscope, an origami-based microscope, as an example of frugal innovation
- workshops for teachers on soap making, parasitism, water, sanitation and hygiene options in resource-constrained settings
- school-based lessons and extra-curricular activities related to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), including school debates
- school and community WASH events to mark international days
- a sanitation science fair that involved students working in teams to complete a science fair project related to WASH.
In order to measure the knowledge, attitudes and practices of students in two participating secondary schools, baseline and post-intervention, six-month follow-up surveys were conducted, as well as ‘think tanks’, focus groups and in-depth interviews with students, teachers, traditional leaders and other stakeholders.
Project goals were achieved for short- and medium-term outcomes, and partially achieved for long-term outcomes.
Significant positive intervention effects were noted with respect to:
a) intentions to use toilets in future
b) reduced frequency of unhygienic behaviour
c) increased frequency of using soap/mud/ash when washing hands
d) improved perceptions regarding the importance of hand washing
e) increased communication with others about the importance of washing hands
f) increased communication about contaminated water and improving water storage and treatment
g) youth engagement in health promotion/education.
Qualitative data demonstrated that students and teachers perceive that their knowledge about parasitism, sanitation and hygiene improved substantially as part of the project, and that the project provided an important platform for developing capacity in Maasai youth to develop locally sustainable strategies to improve the health of their communities.
One of the major achievements of this study was its unique contribution to the literature regarding knowledge, attitudes and practices among Maasai youth related to sanitation and hygiene.
Funds were leveraged from two grants: University of Calgary, University International Grants Committee $12,370, and $7,600 from McLaughlin Travelling Medical Education Fund.
The project team has built a number of fruitful partnerships with other academic institutions, NGOs and a private enterprise, and they intend to apply for a Phase 2 Transition To Scale funding.
The team plans to build on recent grant successes to ensure a robust infrastructure, to facilitate the roll-out of Project SHINE in other communities in Tanzania and India.