W26 Sharing the messages

SanitationHygieneWater and sanitation

People are more likely to respond to positive messages that respect their reasons for doing things, rather than to warnings about dirt. Share messages about gaining respect, having healthy children, a clean environment and taking pride in, for example, a latrine.

Consider what the most important messages are for our community to improve people’s health. These could include hand washing, covering food, washing water containers, purifying water for drinking, using a latrine and disposing of baby faeces safely. Effective messages should be short, positive and easy to adopt. Sometimes making them funny helps people to remember them.

Effective ways of sharing messages could include simple role-plays or songs. Children could learn the recipe for Oral Rehydration Salts in songs to help them remember it. Sensitive issues about latrines or women’s hygiene may be easier to share using puppets. Games that teach simple messages can help children’s learning. Messages that are clearly shared with children will also reach their parents. Religious groups can be very helpful in sharing messages that benefit the health of the community.


  • How have health messages been shared in the past? Which of these have proved most effective and why?
  • How do people in our community like learning? How can we do more of this?
  • Who are the best people to share the messages with children, young people, women, men and older people?
  • Who are the people who would benefit most from gaining more understanding of the need for improved hygiene, safe water and sanitation? How can they be reached effectively?
  • In some countries, health clubs have been formed where people learn and discuss together ways of improving hygiene and sanitation practices. Sometimes they have membership cards where people can tick off evidence of improved behaviour such as making and using a tippy tap, building and using a drying rack or building a latrine. What would be the response if health clubs were introduced in our community?
  • What experience do we have in using role-plays or puppets to share messages? It is easier and more fun to do than people expect! Plan a simple role-play on the positive message that people feel is most important to share.

Games for children 

Adapt all kinds of simple games to share healthy living messages.

  • Mime an action and ask children to guess what it is. These could include hand washing, purifying drinking water with SODIS and using a drying rack after washing dishes.
  • Use a counting game where instead of saying 3 or a multiple of 3, children have to say ‘hand washing’ and instead of saying 7 or a multiple of 7, children have to say ‘ORS’. 
  • Make word pairs that go together like soap and water, VIP and latrine, ORS and diarrhoea, bucket and well, tippy and tap, flies and disease, drying and rack. Write out each word and attach it to children’s backs without them knowing what it is. Obviously, everyone else can see it! They ask questions to discover their word but people can only answer yes or no. When they discover what their word is they have to find the person with the matching word. The first pair to find each other wins.