Colombia - Improving School Sanitation and Hygiene Education using Participatory Diagnosis

Updated - Tuesday 16 August 2016

Snel, Marielle and Aponte Reyes, Alexander (2004)

This paper describes a UNICEF School Sanitation project in eleven schools in the South-Eastern Department of Cauca in Colombia. A participatory diagnosis methodology was used at the beginning of the project to look at school sanitation and hygiene behaviour, to provide the information needed to improve direct interventions in School Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE).

The project was carried out in 11 schools with 2,947 children in the southeast of Colombia. It used a participatory approach and drew on Life Skills to involve the population and find solutions to SSHE issues. The project gained a great deal of information about the different perceptions of parents, teachers, girls and boys concerning SSHE. The results will be used to strengthen future projects in the region.


This programme has developed a strong, child-centred participatory approach. It is also a decentralised approach, focusing on the districts, and this provides great opportunities for further expansion of the programme. Tools and methodologies need to be finalised and validated by demonstrating that they can strengthen the outputs of the programmes, particularly infrastructure and training tools.

The schools are communities made up of different actors: children, parents, teachers, directors. Exploring their motivation, thinking and perceptions about SSHE improves both planning and activities. It is well worth doing. The children find it easy to express their enthusiasm for progress in their school. Such clear and steady vision, capable people and a well-adapted approach are necessary to meet the next phase of challenges: design, construction, operation and maintenance.

The process described in this paper generated a lot of expectations. The main hope is that common and participatory solutions will be found for problems identified. Informed people working together can build a child-friendly school.

The majority of the schools in this study were not below national or international standards for the number of students per facility.

The case study was abstracted from: Snel, M. (2004), "THE WORTH OF SCHOOL SANITATION AND HYGIENE EDUCATION (SSHE)", IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Delft, the Netherlands

- Download:
Colombia.doc (72.5 kB)


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