arrow_backEmergency WASH

Tools & Methods

This section is a compilation of commonly used hygiene promotion (HP) tools and methods, arranged in alphabetic order. Many tools and methods – especially those that are interactive and stimulate discussion - can be used throughout the programme cycle and for all components of HP. Several tools – even those that are not always interactive - can be adapted and made more so. A key aim of an HP intervention is to influence WASH practices. Most tools support Social and Behaviour Change (chapter  B ). Some have been developed from specific behavioural change models B.2 and approaches (chapter  F ). Not all existing tools are included; the selection is of the current most commonly used tools for a variety of situations. As tools are adapted or developed, they will be added to the online version of the Compendium.

Some tools are suited to specific situations. Others can be used for different phases of the emergency and at various stages in the project cycle (e.g. for assessment, implementation and monitoring). With minimal adaptation, the tools can be used in a variety of settings and with different groups of people. Most of the tools provide a method for investigating and learning about the WASH (or health/hygiene) situation. Many describe ways of engaging the affected population, promoting discussion about the situation and motivating people to address the issues.

The use of the tools and methods must respect the autonomy and dignity of participants. Consent must always be obtained and people given information about the process and how their data will be used and stored. Knowledge and information should be gathered to address the community’s needs, not for its own sake. The tools must be used to build people’s confidence and self-esteem rather than to make them feel small or inadequate. Participatory tools and methods are underpinned by a particular philosophy and set of values. They aim to provide a voice to people from diverse backgrounds and identities and involve the affected community in identifying collective solutions to the specific problems faced. People are not passive information providers; they are active investigators of solutions to improve their situation.

Many of the tools facilitate participation and accountability in a WASH programme because they emphasise the importance of listening to affected communities and of using dialogue and discussion to understand the particular issues faced by that community. All the tools should be implemented using the essential considerations and practices that underpin accountability, safeguarding and working with children, as outlined below.

Accountability and Safeguarding Good Practice

  • Consider the risks and benefits of participation and only use a specific tool or method where it has the potential to be relevant and useful.
  • Seek the informed consent of those participating and explain who you are and why they are being invited to participate – use language that is clear and easy to understand and allow people to ask questions.
  • Make sure participants are clear about the process and intention of the discussion or activity and what will happen to the information gathered.
  • Treat people with respect - start by introducing yourselves and end with an overview of what has been discussed. Thank participants for their time and inputs.
  • Obtain permission to record any session (whether through video, photograph, sound recording or written notes) before starting and explain to participants how this data will be used and stored.
  • Respect people’s wishes about visual recording, e.g. if people are reluctant to have their photograph taken.
  • Take care when and if obtaining people’s names and explain how names might be used, e.g. as a caption for a photograph, used anonymously or as a community record.
  • Clearly explain the implications of participation and manage expectations (people sometimes feel that giving their names will involve some benefit in cash or kind).
  • Consider the protection of participants and especially of vulnerable persons (such as minors and persons with illness or disability). Giving people who are often marginalised a voice can cause tensions and challenge patterns of dominance and power and it is important to be aware of this.
  • Ensure the confidentiality of the information collected.
  • Ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded and that the location is accessible. They (and others) may feel more comfortable with a support person or need interpreters (e.g. if they have trouble with vision and/or hearing). They may also need separate sessions/activities due to discrimination and community perceptions or biases.
  • Check if permission from local authorities is required and, in the case of more formal surveys, check if the survey protocol has to be submitted to the relevant review board to ensure the proposed data collection meets international ethical standards for research involving human subjects.
  • Provide adequate training and support (including debriefs and periods of reflection) on the use of the tools for new staff, volunteers and interpreters.
  • Be aware that people’s experience of participation is often varied; some may mistrust the process. Some activities may be more successful if there is an ongoing relationship with community members and when trust is established.
  • Consider gender specific consultations (e.g. use of female staff for Menstrual Health and Hygiene P.7 and related topics) or the use of private, safe places when addressing gender sensitive issues or working with marginalised groups.
  • Be aware that in some situations, e.g. densely populated urban areas, the sense of community may be non-existent. In many situations effective use of the tools may involve navigating community dynamics of power and vulnerability.
  • Ensure that people working with the community know where to refer people for additional support or services if needed (e.g. if someone discloses sexual or gender based violence, or a breach of the Code of Conduct) and where and how to complain or provide feedback.


Working with Children

  • Consider the appropriate minimum age of the children who are participating.
  • Obtain informed consent from a parent or primary caregiver.
  • Ensure the confidentiality of the child’s information.
  • Be aware of procedures, including the responsibility to report if a child discloses abuse during an interview or activity. This is a priority safeguarding issue and must be carefully planned for, in advance, when working with children.
  • Consider how to manage children’s and parents’ expectations of support after the activity has been completed.


To support the context-specific selection of appropriate tools and methods this section provides an overview of all tools and methods covered classified in relation to some key selection criteria. Using the corresponding filters provides an initial indication of which tools and methods may be suitable for a particular context. The filters are divided into four categories: HP Component, Response Phase, Target Group and Application Level.

The HP Component category refers to the six key HP components described in the first section of this Compendium. This category indicates whether the tools and methods are commonly used in relation to the components in the six chapters of Preconditions and Enabling Factors  P , Community Engagement and Participation  E , Assessment, Analysis and Planning  A , Communication  C , Social and Behaviour Change  B  and Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning  M . An indication of whether a tool or method is linked to any of the HP components is given using asterisks (two asterisks: suitable, one asterisk: less suitable, no asterisk: rarely suitable or unsuitable).

The Emergency Phase category indicates which specific tool or method is appropriate and suitable in which phase of the response. It is subdivided into the phases of acute response, stabilisation, recovery, protracted crisis and development. An indication of a tool or method’s suitability for each phase is provided using asterisks (two asterisks: suitable, one asterisk: less suitable, no asterisk: rarely suitable or unsuitable). The level of appropriateness is selected through a comparison between the different tools and methods, mainly based on the criteria of applicability and speed of implementation.

The Target Group refers to different population groups whose participation could be enhanced through using a specific tool or method. It is subdivided into children, adults, older people, people with disabilities, local leaders and/or the society as a whole. An indication of whether a tool or method is suitable at targeting a specific segment of the population is given using asterisks (two asterisks: suitable, one asterisk: less suitable, no asterisk: rarely suitable or unsuitable).

The Application Level refers to the different environments and scale for which the tools and methods are most appropriate. It is subdivided into individual/household, community/municipality, institution, camp, rural and urban contexts. An indication of whether a tool or method is suitable at a specific spatial level is given using asterisks (two asterisks: suitable, one asterisk: less suitable, no asterisk: rarely suitable or unsuitable).

T.4 Beautification star_border star
T.5 Care Groups star_border star
T.7 Community Mapping star_border star
T.8 Competition star_border star
T.9 Cues and Nudges star_border star
T.11 Events star_border star
T.12 Exchange Visits star_border star
T.15 Games and Toys star_border star
T.16 Gender Analysis star_border star
T.18 Household Visit star_border star
T.28 Observation star_border star
T.33 Print Media star_border star
T.39 Ranking star_border star
T.41 Role Play star_border star
T.46 Social Support star_border star
T.48 Spidergram star_border star
T.52 Transect Walk star_border star
T.54 Venn Diagram star_border star
T.55 WASH Committee star_border star