Participatory Action Research to Improve Sanitary Conditions in Selected Schools in Chikankata District

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Phiri, Margaret
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University of Zambia
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) coverage in rural areas remain a big threat to the rural population of Zambia. Most rural communities including public places such as schools, churches do not have access to any form of toilet facility. This health problem is common in the sub Saharan region. In this study the researchers used participatory action research approach to explore the perceived sanitary challenges and actions in the selected schools of Chikankata district in the southern province of Zambia. The objectives were to investigate the perceived conditions of sanitary facilities, to analyze perceived quality of sanitary facilities, to understand the gender specific sanitary needs for the pupils, as well as to jointly identify opportunities and develop actions for locally appropriate interventions. A qualitative participatory action research approach was employed to collect data. Data was collected using transect walk around the school surrounding and through photovoice. The photovoice, which was the main data collection tool, used camera to capture photographs to explore participants’ experiences and reactions from photographs in the focus group discussions Focus group discussions were done with forty-seven (47) participants and six (6) key informant interviews from other organizations were conducted. Four major themes emerged from the discussions namely poor sanitation, ideal or good sanitation, perceived hygiene practices, and provision of gender specific needs. The FDGs revealed that participants used photographs to identify the sanitary conditions and possible solutions to the prevailing conditions. The study not only aimed at adding to the body of knowledge but also to allow the pupils’ voices to be heard as they were the only ones who truly understood the prevailing sanitary conditions of their schools. The findings showed that using participatory research tools assisted participants to identify a lot of conditions effective approach which can influence behavioural and social change. Photovoice should be incorporated because of its positive results in health related research. Key words: Perceptions; Experiences; Photovoice; sanitary facility. Excreta
M.Public Health
Schools--Zambia--Sanitary affairs.