• 10% of the Rural Sanitation Programme in India is now being spent on IEC projects.
• This puts $US 1.9m each year into increasing awareness and understanding of water and sanitation issues at every level from state decision makers to rural villagers.
• The action was taken after a survey showed huge gaps in what the sector thought and ordinary people did.
• Fundamental changes in the practice by water engineers and planners are being brought about by this communication exercise.
• Villagers are ready to take on responsibility for maintaining their clean water supply.
In 1991, India's Department of Rural Development allocated 10 % of its rural sanitation programme to IEC.
The decision to give a high profile to communication was reached after the Government of India invited UNICEF to help bring about changes in attitude and behaviour amongst the people, water engineers and planners.
The sheer size of India makes it unlikely that there will be one national solution. Pilot schemes are being launched which involve local people in planning of water and sanitation.
To bring about changes in attitude and behaviour UNICEF needed to know which target group they were trying to reach, what behaviour patterns needed changing and what messages would best bring about those changes.
These questions raised more fundamental ones. What do people already know, believe and do in terms of water use and hygiene?
At the Governments request UNICEF commissioned the Indian Market Research Bureau to carry out a survey of 7,900 people in eight states to find out the answers, using face to face interviews and direct observation. The market research company also talked to those who were implementing the water supply and sanitation programme.
Results were dramatic. On crucial issues there were huge gaps between what those implementing the programme believed, and what those using the water actually did. The survey also showed alarming