Those who will be using the handwashing facilities should be involved at multiple stages of a project, including being involved in designing/selecting, constructing, and maintaining facilities. In some settings there might already be local innovations that can be used as a starting point for new designs.

Using ‘participatory’ methods to select or customise existing technologies or design something new from scratch can make a big difference to acceptability, accessibility, and sustainability. Here are two approaches you could follow, but it can be as simple as just asking people about their preferences, including people who often get ignored in design processes (e.g. older people, people with disabilities) and testing out different options with the community to see which really work to change behaviours.

  • The ‘Human Centred Design’ (HCD) process is often used by product designers and has become very popular in the past few years. HCD tries to deeply understand and empathise with people you’re designing for. It involves generating lots of ideas, building prototype models, and testing them over and over with users until you find the best solutions for your setting.

  • ‘Trials of Improved Practice’ (TIP) are based on a similar idea of getting people to try out different products in their own homes and recommend improvements or see what improvements or alterations people make themselves. Compromising between the ‘ideal’ intervention as perceived by the response actor and the ‘ideal’ intervention according to the users, is at the heart of the TIPs methodology. The process was first used for complementary feeding programmes, but it has also been used for the design of handwashing stations.

Want to learn more about designing effective and sustainable handwashing facilities:

Written by Alexandra Czerniewska

Reviewed by: Jamie Myers, Janita Bartell, Astrid Hasund Thorseth, Sheillah Simiyu

Last update: 02.03.2021

Did this answer your question?