arrow_backEmergency WASH

T.19 Information, Education, Communication (IEC)

Information, Education and Communication (IEC) interventions refer to the structured development of effective communication materials and methods aimed at motivating people to take action to prevent WASH-related diseases.

IEC materials are used to support the overarching hygiene promotion strategy. They include a range of products such as infographics, flyers, leaflets, brochures, social media posts, television adverts, audio sessions for radio, posters, billboards or murals, as well as communications by hygiene promoters. IEC materials are not powerful enough by themselves to change behaviour. They should be integrated with other activities using various communication channels, including some which allow for dialogue and interaction. To develop IEC materials, a structured approach should be taken. The first step is to understand the situation and then identify risky behaviours, decide what needs to change to have a positive effect on people’s health and well-being, select the target audience and identify social and cultural factors that shape beliefs and practices. The second step informs the planning of IEC interventions including the definition of objectives, analysis of community perspectives, selection of IEC methods, materials and channels and the development of an action plan to ensure the production of timely and suitable products. The third step is the implementation phase. This includes working with artists and others to design the IEC materials and pre-testing to ensure materials and messages are understood. Monitoring, evaluation and learning (chapter  M ) examine whether the intervention has been effective and checks if the materials are visible, of interest, acceptable and understood. Interviews (T.23 or T.27), spot-check Observations T.28 and Focus Group Discussions T.14 can be used to find out what people understood from the material and whether they are likely to act on the information.


IEC materials can be used in any response phase but, to enable their appropriate use in an acute phase, preparation needs to be done in advance. Materials can be useful in all contexts and applied at any scale. IEC materials and methods are part of a communication strategy, often as an element of mass media campaigns C.5 and should therefore follow the same principles. However, IEC can also be used to support Participatory Communication C.4. Working with local professionals will facilitate the process, for example through language use and increasing the acceptability of drawings.


  • Use images that are positive and make people feel empowered 

  • Allow time for pre-testing and use a defined set of questions to obtain good quality feedback

  • Ensure that monitoring findings are used to adapt and modify the IEC materials and methods


  • Do not use messages that are too general or too complicated

  • Do not use negative or judgemental messages

Practical Example

IFRC developed generic IEC materials for health promotion in water, sanitation and hygiene. The resulting series of ten documents support WASH IEC activities. The materials are adapted and used by Red Cross or Red Crescent volunteers in different contexts to raise awareness in the household and community on WASH issues such as diarrhoea prevention, personal hygiene and domestic hygiene.

Key Decision Critria

Response Phase
Acute Response
+ +
+ +
+ +
Protracted Crisis
+ +
+ +
HP Component
Preconditions and Enabling Environment
Community Engagement and Participation
Assessment, Analysis and Planning
+ +
Social and Behaviour Change
Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
Target Group
+ +
+ +
Older People
+ +
Persons with Disabilities
+ +
Local Leaders
+ +
Society as a whole
+ +
Application Level
Individual / Household
+ +
Community / Municipality
+ +
+ +
+ +
+ +
+ +


MOOC training on IEC in WASH emergencies

Oxfam (undated): Information, Education and Communication (IEC) in WASH Emergencies. Online Course

General information on posters and flyers as part of media campaigns

SSWM (undated): Media Campaign. Poster and Flyer

IEC material examples

IFRC (undated): IEC Materials for Health Promotion in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Resilience Library Southeast Asia Resources

CDC (undated): Posters for the Prevention and Control of Cholera

CDC (undated): Hygiene-Related Posters