Multi-Sectoral Participatory Design of a BabyWASH Playspace for Rural Ethiopian Households

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  • 1 Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom;
  • 2 Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom;
  • 3 People in Need United Kingdom, London, United Kingdom;
  • 4 FHI360, United States Agency for International Development WASHPaLS Project, Washington, District of Columbia;
  • 5 Concern Worldwide, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
  • 6 People in Need, Hawassa, Ethiopia;
  • 7 B.E. Design, Cambridge, United Kingdom;
  • 8 Centre for Competitive Creative Design, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom

Growing evidence suggests current water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions do not improve domestic hygiene sufficiently to improve infant health, nor consider the age-specific behaviors which increase infection risk. A household playspace (HPS) is described as one critical intervention to reduce direct fecal–oral transmission within formative growth periods. This article details both the design and development (materials and methods), and testing (results) of a HPS for rural Ethiopian households. Design and testing followed a multi-sectoral, multistep participatory process. This included a focus group discussion (FGD), two user-centered and participatory design workshops in the United Kingdom and Ethiopia, discussions with local manufacturers, and a Trials by Improved Practices (TIPs) leading to a final prototype design. Testing included the FGD and TIPs study and a subsequent randomized controlled feasibility trial in Ethiopian households. This multi-sectoral, multistage development process demonstrated a HPS is an acceptable and feasible intervention in these low-income, rural subsistence Ethiopian households. A HPS may help reduce fecal–oral transmission and infection—particularly in settings where free-range domestic livestock present an increased risk. With the need to better tailor interventions to improve infant health, this article also provides a framework for future groups developing similar material inputs and highlights the value of participatory design in this field.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Alison Parker, Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, United Kingdom. E-mail: a.parker@cranfield.ac.uk

Financial support: S. B. is jointly funded as a research student by both Cranfield University and people in need, who received funding from the Czech Development Agency for the project.

Authors’ addresses: Sophie Budge and Sophie Budge, Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom, E-mails: s.g.budge@cranfield.ac.uk and a.parker@leeds.ac.uk. Paul Hutchings, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom, E-mail: p.hutchings@leeds.ac.uk. Camila Garbutt, People in Need UK, London, United Kingdom, E-mail: camila.garbutt@pin-uk.global. Julia Rosenbaum, FHI360, United States Agency for International Development WASHPaLS Project, Washington, DC, E-mail: jrosenbaum@fhi360.org. Tizita Tulu, Concern Worldwide, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, E-mail: tzt_tulu@yahoo.com. Fitsume Woldemedhin and Mohammedyasin Jemal, People In Need, SNNPR, Hawassa, Ethiopia, E-mails: fitsume.woldemedhin@peopleinneed.cz and mohammedyasin.jemal@peopleinneed.cz. Bhavin Engineer, B.E. design, Cambridge, United Kingdom, E-mail: bedesignconsultancy@gmail.com. Leon Williams, Centre for Competitive Creative Design, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom, E-mail: l.williams@cranfield.ac.uk.

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