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Diarrhoea is top 10 disease in Bhutan, so behaviour change is needed

Published on: 12/03/2015

Behaviour change communication is essential in making water and sanitation campaigns successful. Bhutan has high coverage rates, basic sanitation coverage of 95 percent, improved sanitation coverage of 60 percent and 97 percent access to safe drinking water, but despite these good figures diarrhoea is still a top 10 disease in the country.

Department of public health executive engineer, Sonam Gyaltshen states there is an urgent need to focus much more attention on hygiene behaviour change, if any meaningful progress is going to be made in gaining a health impact from investments in water supply and sanitation.

SNV and IRC have been active in Bhutan in the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All project. This project is essentially a capacity building approach, supporting local government to lead and accelerate progress towards district-wide sanitation coverage with a focus on institutional sustainability and learning. Project work revolves around a number of specific components one of which is hygiene behaviour change communication. Currently a four-day learning event, organised by SNV, IRC and the Ministry of Health, on this topic is underway in Paro, Bhutan.

Apart from this activity, IRC is also involved in a study, which as expert Erick Baetings explains, attempts to correlate changes in behaviour and the costs invested by the Bhutan government to bring about this change in Samtse district.  This study will be conducted for the next two years. The results of this study will provide information to the government on what practices are worth replicating in other districts.

More information on the work around behaviour change communication in which IRC and SNV are involved has been reported in Kuensel, Bhutan’s daily newspaper (see link below).