Visiting people in their home environment enables a hygiene promoter to assess the environment and to support community members to adopt good practices specific to their needs.
Household Visits are usually done by community-based hygiene promoters. During the visit, they identify and understand the household’s WASH issues and work with the householders to find solutions. Appropriate advice and support are then given based on the needs and context. Such visits enable hygiene promoters to gain a better understanding of hygiene problems. The visit might involve looking at how drinking water is stored and used within the household. It may assess whether there are handwashing stations at key locations. Behaviours such as handwashing can be discussed and demonstrated. Household Visits can also make use of other hygiene promotion methods, such as visual aids or interactive activities. The visits require adequate staff or volunteers and sufficient time. Although Household Visits are time-consuming, they can be effective. Problems and challenges can be discussed, appropriate solutions found, demonstrations carried out in the house and specific hygiene behaviours targeted. Depending on the context, one hygiene promoter can visit between six and ten households per day. The Household Visits team should be well-trained, have good Communication Skills C.2 and be non-judgmental. They should always start the visit with introductions, explain who they are and ask for permission to visit. Reports on Household Visits should be made so that the information is gathered, documented and used. Monitoring M.2 of the visits should be routinely carried out, to track whether they are well received and effective.
Household Visits are useful in most situations, settings, emergency phases and stages of the programme cycle. Visits are especially helpful to people unable to leave the house (e.g. older people). Sensitive issues such as menstruation are easier to discuss with people from the same household than with a wider group outside. Visits can seem intrusive and people may feel judged; hygiene promoters need to be respectful and sensitive to gain people’s trust.
Visit at a time convenient for the householders, e.g. not during a food distribution
Vary the discussions and visual aids so that visits are not repetitive and stay interesting,
Actively listen to and work with people to find solutions
Do not lecture, telling people what to do. Observe, listen and discuss: communicate, do not disseminate!
Do not overwhelm people with too much information on the visit
In 2017 a WASH volunteer system started in a camp in Greece for displaced people from various countries. One of the volunteers’ roles was to visit people in their tents. The volunteers worked in male and female teams. During the Household Visits, they observed, listened and advised on topics such as rubbish disposal and handwashing. The team had to be representative of the different nationalities and ethnicities in the camp. They were allocated to different sections of the camp, visiting the homes of people of their nationality/ethnicity, so that they could communicate more effectively.
WEDC (2014): Guide 13. Managing Hygiene Promotion in WASH Programmes, Loughborough University
UNHCR (2017): UNHCR Hygiene Promotion Guidelines
Ferron, S., Morgan, J. et al. (2007): Hygiene Promotion. A Practical Manual for Relief and Development, Practical Action Publishing. ISBN: 978-1853396410
CAWST (2017): Community WASH Promotion Trainer Manual