Conditions in the area where we live will have a large impact on our health. Here is a useful exercise to consider the situation in our local area together.

Divide into two groups. Each group should make a map showing the community and local area. As well as showing the roads, houses and community buildings, include the places where people get water. Show any latrines and areas where people go to pass urine and faeces. Show where household rubbish is placed. As people make the map, discuss the good points and any problems with each of these places.

When the maps are finished, each group should explain their map to the other group as a kind of role-play by imagining they are showing visitors around. Describe the route they would take and explain what they would say. One group should imagine how they would show around the local politician and a visitor with a special interest in water and sanitation. The politician is keen to impress the visitor by pointing out how good the local situation is. The other group should then show around a visitor from a water and sanitation NGO who has come offering help to improve the local situation.

Afterwards discuss the key differences between the two ‘visits’. Raise any points that people in the other group forgot to mention. 

  • How helpful was it to consider the situation regarding local water sources and sanitation practices as a group? What new information did we learn?
  • Which is easier to do – to take pride in something positive, or to criticise things that are wrong?
  • Were the two routes used during the exercise very different?
  • How do people deal with rubbish, including plastic bags, tins or old shoes? Is it burned, buried or thrown away?
  • Think of the water sources in our community and the improvements suggested to the visitor from the water and sanitation NGO? Could any of these be done without outside help? 
  • Think of where most people in the community go to pass urine and faeces. Are most people happy about the present situation? What improvements could be made at low cost?