An end to open defecation will not be achieved without a strong and focused effort involving stakeholders at all levels from around the world. Here are some key steps to help you kick start your drive:
Journalists, decision makers and regular people are most interested in knowing about the specifics in their own country. Thus, an important first step is to compile pertinent national data. This data collection can include numbers on child morbidity and mortality rates, diarrhoea and girl’s absentee rates from school due to a lack of adequate sanitation facilities.
Adapt the existing key messages provided on this website or transform your local/national statistics into key messages and stories for a specific target audience. The messages and stories should support successes, identify gaps and set out the next steps. Doom and gloom news by itself generally doesn’t motivate people to action – they need to see something concrete that is already working in order to inspire them.
Organize events and activities with local partners to generate media attention and get the message out to large numbers of people in an entertaining and stimulating manner. Discussions, forums, seminars and courses are useful for exchanging information with NGOs, policy-makers and decision-makers, and with associations for physicians, teachers, students and environmental health officials.
The media can bring non-prioritized issues like sanitation into the public discourse and create a buzz around an issue that is seen as “taboo”. Use the media as an effective partner. The media is potentially the most effective tool for communicating your message, but to work with the media you must understand how the media works. Timing is everything and sound bites provide the best messages. Before approaching the media, understand and prepare your key messages and talking points.
Millions of individuals do not fully understand or appreciate the wealth of benefits improved sanitation yields on their health and their lives. This might be the greatest obstacle for success – for billions sanitation is not a priority! Therefore along with mobilizing resources and strengthening political and governmental commitment, there is an urgent need to intensify global and regional sanitation communication efforts that are specifically directed at increasing societal commitment, awareness and participation.
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