Promoting Good Hygiene and Sanitation Practices in Ghana's Remote Rural Communities
Updated: Mar 22
A woman in Northern Ghana demonstrates proper handwashing.
Use of Talking Books as a C4D Strategy
In Ghana, UNICEF used the Amplio Talking Book as a communication for development (C4D) strategy with remote rural communities in the Upper West and Northern regions. UNICEF selected the Talking Book as a social and behavior change and communication tool. Implemented by Literacy Bridge Ghana (now Amplio Ghana), the project promoted key family practices to improve health and well-being, including hygiene and sanitation.
“The Talking Book convinced me to construct a tippy tap. We are the first in this community to have a handwashing facility.” —user feedback from Tolon District
Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenges
Many families in rural Ghana suffer from diarrheal diseases, which can be deadly—especially for children. According to UNICEF, 76 percent of households in Ghana are at risk of drinking water contaminated with fecal matter. The challenges include open defecation, lack of clean water and soap, and inadequate handwashing.
Communities lack access to critical information about water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) due to barriers such as low literacy levels and lack of mass media.
Promoting WASH knowledge and local solutions
To promote the uptake of new knowledge and behaviors, UNICEF's Talking Book content included messages on handwashing, menstrual hygiene, open defecation, and technical information such as how to build a latrine or make soap from ash. The messages were produced in four languages (Dagaare, Dagbani Lambussie Sissali, and Funsi Sissali).
Our team distributed Talking Books to community groups and through a household rotation model. Community members listened to messages during Village Savings and Loan Association meetings, individually, and with their families. In addition, the team used Talking Books to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues. Citizens came together to listen, debate, and find their own solutions to local challenges, such as constructing latrines when the ground was too hard or sharing water sources with animals.
Dangyi Mane-Gbiel built a latrine after listening to the Talking Book.
Impact on hygiene knowledge and behaviors
Our team analyzed Talking Book usage data and user feedback (community feedback messages recorded onto Talking Books) to monitor and evaluate message engagement, identify issues and trends, and continually update and improve content for success. When UNICEF’s program came to a close, participants reported adopting new knowledge and behaviors for hygiene and sanitation, such as increased handwashing, washing hands at key times, and the use of tippy taps and latrines. In the endline survey, significantly more people reported always washing their hands before eating.
Survey respondents from across all districts cited the Talking Book as an important source of information for all topics covered.
“Your campaign for us to practice good hygiene is yielding results. Now few cases of diarrhea are recorded.” —user feedback from a woman in Gbanjoglo
Identifying issues and trends through Talking Book usage data and user feedback
Talking Book usage data and user feedback allowed Amplio and UNICEF to see which communities are engaged, including which devices and messages were listened to and commented on the most (or least). For example, UNICEF Ghana’s Talking Book data showed that Jirapa District had 61, 587 completions of WASH sector messages compared to 52,691 completions in Karaga, where the program was smaller.
Participants also used the Talking Book’s built-in microphone to record their questions, comments, and perspectives. Although user feedback is anonymous, the messages are linked to the community where the device is used, which helps Amplio and its Talking Book partners identify and address emerging issues and trends. For example, some communities explained they didn't have soap. In response, the team updated the Talking Books with new messages about how to make soap from ash.