A Transect Walk is a ‘walking interview’ with community members, following a defined route or path in an intervention area, to observe and learn about existing WASH conditions, practices and challenges.
A Transect Walk is a participatory method conducted with participants selected from the target community to Observe T.28, better understand hygiene status, practices, problems and challenges linked to WASH and assess opportunities for action and improvement. Points of interest usually include the availability of handwashing facilities and soap, existing water supply and sanitation facilities and personal, domestic and environmental hygiene practices, including waste management. In preparation, key informants are identified who represent all relevant stakeholder groups in the area willing to share their observations. The purpose of the walk, the information to be collected, roles and responsibilities and allocation of tasks among participants need to be discussed and agreed upon with participants. A Checklist T.2 or question guide derived from the main areas of interest may be helpful. A representative route that covers the full geographical variation of the area should be chosen and, if available, maps or aerial photographs to identify the path. It is important to document the observations and information collected from people. Depending on the context, it may be beneficial to use a camera, voice recorder, existing maps or Global Positioning System devices. It is useful to identify meeting points along the path where everyone stops to record information and discuss any emerging issues. Once the Transect Walk is completed, participants meet to analyse the observations and information.
Transect Walks can be used in all response phases and contexts. They are typically applied in rural settings but are increasingly used in urban areas to get a quick overview and establish immediate contact with the community. They are often conducted during the assessment phase (chapter A ) but can be used as tools for Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation M.5 during or at the end of an intervention. They require a skilled facilitator, notebooks and pens and time (usually several hours depending on the size of the area).
Select a diverse group of participants and/or conduct separate Transect Walks
Take time to talk with community members during the Walk
Be flexible and take various opportunities to gather data
Do not try to observe too many factors; keep to the most relevant
Do not conduct the Walk with too many participants or only with leaders or men.
A Transect Walk was conducted in the rural municipality of San Andres de Tupicocha, Peru to obtain data for a water and sanitation evaluation. Participants were mainly students aged 14-17 years who lived there. They observed, discussed and took notes during the Walk, inspected water tanks and public toilets and explored questions about the sanitary situation in their homes. The information was documented on a map T.7 and further discussions took place to identify key issues. It was a useful exercise to understand WASH issues in the area.
IFRC (undated): Transect Walk. EVCA Toolbox
SSWM (undated): Factsheet: Transect Walk
World Bank (2015): Transect Walk
IFRC (undated): Transect Walk and Observation Guide
Kramer, H., Krauss, M. et al. (2020): A Transect Walk to Observe Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Undertaken in the Rural Municipality San Andrés de Tupicocha in the Peruvian Andes, University of Stuttgart, TRUST
Kar, K., Chambers, R. (2008): Handbook on Community-Led Total Sanitation, IDS, Plan International