FIELD RESEARCH & ZINE design
A study of water, worms, and washing to address water and sanitation issues in Nepal. This Zine links the spiritual act of purification with the physical act of washing the body.
Visuals were pretested and feedback from local communities included in the final product. Creating visual images that displayed information in easy to understand graphics helped raise awareness about the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation for people of all ages and ethnicities.
In Nepal, half the population defecate in the open and approximately 10,500 children die of diarrheal diseases each year. 40% of school-aged children are infected with intestinal worms. Government and non-governmental organizations address this situation by implementing a hygiene and sanitation methodology called Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). This methodology is implemented by most international non-governmental and government organizations working in the country and is not sustainable in the long term.
I completed research work on this methodology in Nepal in 2012 and my findings revealed that the methodology was built on fear, shame and humiliation. Media messages were also designed in local or national language without appropriate graphics and were often ineffective for the large numbers of people who are illiterate. No visuals were available to raise awareness about the impact of using soap or the danger of worms and their connection to water.
96% of the population is either Hindu or Buddhist in Nepal and water plays a central role in religious and cultural ceremonies. Even though fear and shame may be strong influencers of behavioral change, I believe that the key to implementing sustainable hygiene practices is to align practices with local cultural norms and religious traditions. My hypothesis was that a tangible impact on change in personal hygiene behavior would be more likely to occur when visual messages were built on cultural norms, values and rituals.