Collaboration with Evidence Action

In Uganda, clean water is not only a health imperative but an evolving cultural conversation. And the question isn’t its importance, but merely the most effective yet realistic ways of getting safe water. Seeing through the eyes of locals, and understanding the real “why” behind their struggles with water, leads to design innovation that positively influences behavior and ultimately adds to the cultural fabric.

Evidence Action, a non-profit that scales proven development solutions throughout the globe, is focused on providing clean water throughout East Africa via chlorine dispensers, but had found a disconcerting, growing gap between awareness of these dispensers and their ultimate adoption, particularly in Uganda. They asked us to help them better understand perceptions around water treatment before implementing a test program to measurably increase usage of chlorine in drinking water.

Bridging the Awareness Gap

We conducted in-depth interviews and observations in a range of rural villages throughout three districts in eastern Uganda and found that the barriers to chlorine adoption have to do with cultural perceptions as well as lack of awareness amongst key influencers within the community. These factors, combined with the general heavy workload of an average day, made it difficult to integrate chemical water sanitation into daily life.

Our task was to bridge the gap between chlorine dispenser awareness and practice by more fully harnessing the powerful passion of the community and paving a path free of fears and burdensome changes to daily routines.

Steady Increase in Adoption

Before this program, chlorine treatment adoption rates were around 15 to 25 percent. Our goal was to reach 40 percent adoption within the year. Within three months of implementation of highest priority recommendations, we have witnessed a steady increase in adoption rates, which are now up to 57 percent.

While there is still a long way to go in making clean water consistently available throughout Uganda, the initial results are encouraging and show that small changes in perception and habits can lead to profound improvements in health.

Implementation based on the research plan led to a 30% increase in adoption.

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