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Community mapping

This method also derives from PRA and is widely used as part of other types of participatory approaches as well. Participants are asked to create a map, a representation of their territory, showing places that are important to them (marketplaces, mosques, churches, etc.) and including features of interest to the investigator(s), such as water sources and sanitation facilities.


• To find out what public facilities related to health and hygiene to which the community has access, such as where people draw water from.

• To find out about hygiene and sanitation resources in people's homes (latrines, rubbish pits, dishracks, etc.). This may include items that have been introduced or promoted by your project.


These will depend on the resources available. Maps can be made using sticks to sketch on the ground and placing stones and leaves to mark important places. If participants are familiar with using pens and paper and you can afford them. these can be used. Other alternatives are flip charts and marker pens, or blackboard and chalk.


The following guidelines may be useful to the facilitator:

• Introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the meeting and the planned activity. Speak clearly, in the local language.

• Explain the task. Allow ample time for the participants to discuss the concept of a map, to ask questions, and to make suggestions as to how they would go about drawing it and what materials they want to use. (Sometimes villagers do not want to use sticks and stones, choosing instead pencil and paper, or chalk and blackboard.)

• Listen, look, and learn.

• Encourage/stimulate discussion, but do not dictate what should and should not be on the map.

• Keep a list of participants to refer to later, when checking the information on the map against similar information obtained using other tools.

• When the map is finished, show it to the whole group and ask people to discuss any changes they think need to be made.

• Present the map to a larger group of study participants at another time. For example, you could start your next group discussion by giving feedback on what you have learned about local features and hygiene-related facilities using the map. This serves to stimulate participants' interest in the study.

Management, Review, and Use of Information

The map will contain information both about physical features of the locality and about people's attitudes to it. Often the process of making the map and finding out about the local context through the discussions is just as important as the information on the map itself.

BOX 15. An example of quantifiable information obtained from the maps shown on figure 4

Features and indicators



Homesteads (clusters of households)



Homesteads with young children



Latrines inside the compound



Latrines outside the compound



Washstands (for hand-washing after latrine use)



Maps can provide information that is easily quantifiable. For example, the number of homesteads in a village and even the hygiene-related facilities in each courtyard can be shown (for example, see Figure 4 which shows map from two villages in western Kenya where a number of facilities for improved hygiene, promoted by the SHEWAS project, were indicated). Information from these maps was tabulated as shown in Box 15. This helped the study team make informed sampling decisions for semi-structured interviews with mothers of young children. Here the number of homesteads in the two villages was found to be the same, but the number of families or households in each homestead/courtyard ranged from six to ten. However, the most valuable part of mapmaking is often not the tabulated information, but the analysis provided during the discussion of the maps, which helps to interpret the numbers and to understand their significance.

In some cases maps can include politically sensitive detail such as the marking of boundaries (see Box 16).

The map can be used as a monitoring tool for future assessments. As is the case with a historyline, the map can serve as a document in which a record can be kept of what existed at the time of your study. The map should be dated so that when revisiting the area and conducting follow-up assessments of hygiene practices, any changes that have taken place can be noted by comparing maps. For example, a map created two years after the ones shown in Figure 4 might show that several latrines have been constructed inside the homestead courtyards as a result of some solution arrived at by community members to get around the existing cultural taboo prohibiting in-laws from sharing latrines.

FIGURE 4. Maps of Masanga and Haudinga Villages, Kenya (Number of Participants/Informants = 21 and 19, Respectively) - from Tom Mboya's (SHEWAS Project) copy of the original

FIGURE 4. Maps of Masanga and Haudinga Villages, Kenya (Number of Participants/Informants = 21 and 19, Respectively) - from Tom Mboya's (SHEWAS Project) copy of the original

Seasonal calendar

This method also originates from PRA and is used for the purposes of presenting large quantities of c diverse information m a common time frame. Using this method, local people's accounts of the seasonal pattern of rainfall, agricultural labour (usually differentiated by gender), illness, etc., can be represented visually using local materials.


• To obtain detailed information on the activities of local men, women, and children at different times of the year.

• To find out which illnesses are perceived to be most important and at what time of year or season they are most prevalent.

BOX 16. An Example of Sensitive Issues that Can Arise in Mapmaking

From Kwayondu Village, Tanzania

Some community members were concerned about the village boundaries as they appeared on the map of Kitongoji A (a section of the village). They explained [to members of the study team] that they were currently involved in a dispute with the inhabitants of a neighbouring village about ownership of some of the land on the boundary between the two villages. The case had been taken to court and was still unresolved. The map presented by the study ream seemed to support their opponent's side. After discussing this problem at length, the participants accepted this map, but urged the study team not to show it to anyone in the neighbouring village as it might be used in evidence against them.

A ranking system can be used for the study participants to indicate whether a given activity in a given month is of low, medium, or high intensity. Similarly, climatic indicators such as rainfall and temperature may be graded high, medium, and low, and the prevalence of the most important/common illnesses can be graded in the same way.


The materials required for this tool are the same as those described for mapping above.


• Introduce yourself and your team and explain to participants the purpose of the meeting.

• Instructions should be given clearly, in the local language(s), and you should allow ample time for the participants to discuss the local calendar, ask questions, and choose the materials they want to use. Assure participants that you are there to learn, not to judge or give advice.

• Listen (and look) and learn.

• Encourage everyone to contribute and allow for each contribution to be discussed.

• Keep a participants list to enable you to check who they were when reviewing the data.

• After completion, transfer the chart to a flip chart or black board, present it to the study participants, and invite their comments and suggestions. Any necessary corrections and alterations can be made on-site.

• Present the seasonal calendar(s) to a larger group of study participants at another time. For example, you could start your next group discussion by giving feedback on what you have learned about local climate, illnesses, and activities using the seasonal calendar(s). This serves to stimulate participants' interest in the study.

Management, Review, and Use of Information

You can store data obtained from a seasonal calendar on bar charts accompanied by the interpretation in text form (see, for example, Figure 5 and Box 17). Here, the Lunar calendar traditionally used by the Gogo was equated roughly to the Gregorian (European) calendar. The labels on the vertical axis signify a little (kidogo), medium/average (wastani/kiasi), and a lot (sana) in Kiswahili. Participants were asked to concentrate on illnesses that affected children over the past year. The information provided included adult illnesses as well, and it was suggested that the same climatic and illness pattern occurred most years.

FIGURE 5. Seasonal Calendar for Illnesses and Climate in Asanje, Tanzania (Number of Participants/Informants = 16)

A seasonal calendar, stored on a flip-chart or other type of paper, such as the one on Figure 5 which can be found in the Dodoma hygiene evaluation study report, can serve as a document that can be used for reference and/or monitoring purposes.

BOX 17. Extracts of Notes from Discussions of a Seasonal Calendar

From Asanje Village, Tanzania

In Asanje village. seasonal calendars for activities. diseases, and climate were prepared in the same session. The participants included twelve women and nine men who began by discussing the common illnesses. The first illness mentioned was degedege which strictly speaking refers to convulsions. The term is commonly used for malaria. However, the term homa, fever. was also used in the discussion to refer to malaria. Both fever and convulsions were associated with the wet season. Participants agreed that degedege is a common illness during the months of January to April. There is little of it (that is, a few people have it, mainly children) in January; more in February (average numbers of people); but a lot in March and April (almost all young children and several adults suffer from it). The traditional doctor mentioned that he had treated many people for degedege in the past fey, months. The women participants recalled the children who had died from degedege in recent months, but they did not mention any adults...

The amount of rainfall was high in January, very little in February, average in March and April. and little in May...

When asked why the shamba was extended after planting and not before, the participants explained that it was for safety reasons. If the shamba is very close to the bush. it is more difficult for the farmer to protect his crop from raids by wild animals such as baboons and wild boar without him/herself risking attacks by other wild animals including hyenas, leopards and cheetahs. The men reported that at the time of this study. they were having to spend all night outdoors guarding their shambas from wild boar...

The temperature was said to be a little hot in August, but very hot in September and October. In September and October most adults (particularly women) suffered from headaches. This was said to he the main illness which affected large numbers of people. Headaches were caused by walking long distances (to Babayu and Maya Maya) to fetch water even day. Women carried water on their heads while men, who usually helped to fetch water during these two months. were said to use wheelbarrows or bicycles, if available. The participants discussed and agreed that many people suffered from diarrhoea in November and December when the rains began.

Gender roles/tasks analysis

Investigating gender issues particularly in relation to task allocation and resource management is important for understanding the context in which hygiene practices occur. One of the ways to explore this with participants is to use pictures depicting many of the activities observed locally. Participants should discuss these and arrive at a consensus as to whether each task depicted is performed by men, women, or both.

The same principle can be applied to a set of pictures showing locally produced and used resources and asking which ones are controlled by men, which by women, and which by both men and women.


• To find out which activities or tasks are acceptable for men, which are assigned to women, and which are acceptable for both men and women in the local culture, and why.

• To find out how existing resources are shared between men and women in the society, which resources are managed and/or owned by men, by women, or by both.


Have a set of fifteen to twenty-five cards (pictures mounted on thick paper or card board) showing relevant activities or tasks that are common in the study site, such as fetching water, building latrines, cleaning latrines, feeding children, tilling the land, and so on, for investigating gender-specific activities and tasks; have about the same number of pictures/cards showing commonly used resources such as money, livestock, household goods, and so on for investigating the type of resources for which men and women have access and control. Have three pictures/cards depicting a local adult man, an adult woman, and a man and woman together. The pictures can be drawn by local artists or borrowed from existing locally prepared illustrated booklets, or sets of photographs which may be enlarged and photocopied for this purpose. It is important that the cards show local settings and practices. Label each card with a number so you can refer to it when recording people's comments.


The following guidelines may be helpful to the facilitator:

• Introduce yourself and indicate why the meeting is taking place. Speak clearly, using the local language.

• Ask participants whether the pictures show familiar scenes and whether the tasks shown are commonly undertaken by men, women, or both, and why. When investigating resource allocation and management, ask whether the resources shown are common and who normally controls or manages them, men, women or both, and why.

• If it is useful (e.g., to enable participants to talk more freely, or to find opinions of different sections of the study population) divide participants into smaller groups, for example, according to gender, or age.

• Hand out the cards and ask participants to pass them around, taking time to look at them closely, then discuss each card.

• Listen and learn.

• Ask the group to decide which category each card fits into: good, bad, or in-between. Remind them that they can use the in-between option if the pictures are unclear, or if the group has not agreed whether the practice is good or bad.

• Take notes on what people say (including the final decision, and how many people attended), but do not interfere with the discussion.

Management, Review, and Use of Information

The following procedures will help you process the information obtained systematically:

• Write up your notes. Describe the participants/samples and summarize what each group said about the cards. List the main points made and issues raised in the discussion, areas of disagreement, and any unexpected ideas that were suggested. This information will indicate what participants believe is the job, responsibility, or property of a man or a woman, and what is shared by both man and woman, but it does not prove anything. It can be a starting point for more investigation using other methods such as observation, interviewing, and focus group discussion of the main issues raised.

• List the pictures by number and collate each group's comments on each picture.

• Review the comments made by each group and identify common views and beliefs. Define specific questions for further investigation.

• Prepare reduced copies of each picture used to put in your study report alongside your summaries of the comments made. These may be placed in an annex/appendix to the main body of your report form and Box 18).

Appraisal of the methods and tools

Each of the methods and tools listed were appraised on the basis of our experiences of their use in the context of water supply, sanitation, and health/hygiene education projects, in five different sites in Asia and East Africa during the development and field testing of this handbook. The practical constraints faced by project personnel are reflected, instance, where the need for well trained and skilled investigators/discussion facilitators is mentioned under limitations, it relates to the scarcity of such human resources in the average project setting.

It is important to note that many of the methods and tools described have uses that go well beyond the purposes of investigation and analysis. In particular, those originating from participatory approaches have sustainable educational value because they arouse people's awareness of their own hygiene practices and other issues in the context in which they live. The effect of their awareness and reflection upon the results of investigation can be long-lasting, providing a good foundation for hygiene/health promotion activities (see Chapter 7 for the uses of information in project implementation).

BOX 18. Comments on the Gender Task Pictures on Plate 1

From Afghanistan and Ethiopia

Picture 1

(a) "This is a man's job, but a woman could do it as well - if she was trained in the repairing of pipes and pumps." (Ethiopia, mixed group of men and women in a small town)

(b) "This is usually done by men. but we can do it as well, if we are trained." (Afghanistan, group of women in a village)

Picture 2

(a) "Both men and women teach, at schools, clinics and health centres." (Ethiopia, mixed group of men and women in a small town)

(b) "Yes, we have women teachers, but this is not the way it is done here... Men and women are taught separately. Also, you can't have adults and children in the same class, and a woman does not teach outdoors, only indoors." (Afghanistan, group of women in a village.

Plate 1. Pictures used in gender task analysis in Ethiopia (1994) and Afghanistan (1996)

Picture 1 - A

Picture 1 - B

Picture 2 - A

Picture 2 - B

TABLE 3. Strengths and Limitations of the Methods and Tools Described in Chapter 5





+ Helps investigators to get a general feel of the study site and people (involves all their senses) in a short period of time.

- May lead to wrong first impressions and important issues may be overlooked if investigators are not alert, do not have the right attitudes and/or are inadequately trained.

+ Allows investigators to conduct spot-check observations, to get known by members of the study population, to recruit participants for group discussions and to identify key-informants relatively quickly and easily.

- May need to be done repeatedly to cover different times of day or different seasons, and thus require considerable time and other resources (especially if access to the study site is difficult) for the identification of relevant issues and revising choice of methods and tools. This may be overcome by extending the period of preplanning to include the conduct of healthwalks in the study site(s).

+ Allows investigators to explore relevant issues, to identify possible leads of inquiry and/or to formulate hypotheses.

Structured (Spot-Check) Observations

+ Provides systematic information which can be quantified.

- Requires skilled and disciplined "Investigators to manage the information/field notes, to analyze and document findings.

+ Allows the collection of relatively accurate information(compared to reported information) unobtrusively and so are good for crosschecking information (triangulation).

- Does not allow feedback, or enhance active participation by members of the study population.

Key-Informant Interviews

+ Allows Investigators to gain indepth knowledge of the subject under study.

- May introduce bias to the study, if the number of keyinformants is limited and/or not representative of more than one section of the study population.

+ Provides rich sets of information (with answers to the why questions) which can be used for exploring certain issues further, crosschecking/triangulation purposes and for the interpretation of findings.

- Requires prolonged engagement with the key-informant and thus more time, unless investigators are already well known to informants.

+ Relatively easy to document findings, e.g., without investing in visual aids.

- Requires time and skills to manage and review information from detailed field notes.

TABLE 3. Strengths and Limitations of the Methods and Tools Described in Chapter 5 (continued)





+ Good for establishing or improving rapport with the study population by demonstrating that their version of local history is valued.

- Information obtained requires crosschecking with documentary sources, if available, and thus requires more time for analysis.

+ Useful for finding out how local people see themselves, which historical events and/or personalities are important to them, and why.

+ The results can be easily presented to a larger meeting of study participants for confirmation or correction.

Community Mapping

+ Quick, effective, inexpensive, and accurate way of gathering basic information.

- Requires well-trained, skilled facilitator(s) and note-taker(s).

+ Allows study participants to engage in investigative and analytical processes, increasing their level of participation awareness of the issues at hand.

+ The map can be easily presented to a larger meeting of study participants for confirmation or correction,

+ Provides project personnel and study participants an easily accessible visual documentation which can serve as a record in itself and as a tool for monitoring progress.

+ Heightens study participants' awareness of and reflections on their situation.

TABLE 3. Strengths and Limitations of the Methods and Tools Described in Chapter 5 (continued)




Seasonal Calendar

+ Useful for articulating and systematically documenting local knowledge.

- Requires skilled facilitators.

+ Provides insight into local patterns of climate, disease and subsistence activities and the reasons behind certain practices(some of which may be water/sanitation - related).

- Information obtained requires crosschecking with documentary sources, if available, and thus may require additional time for analysis and interpretation.

+ The results can be easily presented to a larger meeting of study participants for confirmation or correction.

+ Heightens study participants' awareness of and reflections on their situation.

Gender Roles Analysis

+ Quick and effective for exploring gender issues with (pictorial) reference to gender-specific roles and management of resources in a given culture.

- Requires time and special skills to prepare, pretest, and subsequently modify the pictures.

+ Provides investigators with insight into the role of women, children, and men in preserving existing hygiene practices.

- Requires skilled facilitators.

+ Increases awareness of gender issues among study participants - a step towards instigating change where it may be necessary.

- Difficult to document results by using words (text) only, thus costly (in terms of time and money to document.

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