IPS News recently reported on a survey conducted by PSI in Angola on knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to water and sanitation. Survey results indicated that despite high levels of knowledge that clean-looking water might not be safe to drink, only 12% of respondents reported practicing the water treatment and other sanitation behaviors necessary to prevent diseases. In addition, one-third of those interviewed believed that water is blessed by GOd, and therefore, does not need to be sterilized prior to use. In 2006, a cholera outbreak in Angola killed thousands of people underscoring the importance of safe water systems to clean drinking wanter and the promotion of other sanitation behaviors such as hand washing.
PSI's response includes the introduction of Certeza, a water treatment product produced locally in Angola that will allow the treatment of up to 1000 liters of water on a weekly basis. The subsidized product, which will be distributed in conjunction with the Angolan Ministry of Health and Sanitation is affordable and will be available for purchase from local shops.
Given that some of the survey results, however, shed light into some of the socio-cultural beliefs and practices around water, it is also essential to develop a deeper understanding of these issues and incorporate such perspectives into program activities to not only maximize demand creation for Certeza, but also to effectively address other barriers to water treatment and sanitation. A positive deviance approach, for example, which as been shown to be effective in identifying local solutions for malnutrition, handwashing, and other child survival behaviors could be applied to programs focused on water treatment. Within programs, creating a key role for women, who are often responsible for water collection and use could help improve message credibility and identify additional strategies to overcome barriers to Certeza use.