Every year the health of children under 5 years old in Cambodia is jeopardized due to a lack of good sanitation and hygiene, leading to undernutrition and stunting. Not washing hands with soap, exposure to harmful faeces in the environment, and drinking unsafe contaminated water are some of the main causes of life-threatening child illnesses such as diarrhea, which also affects brain development in the first 5 years.
So how can we ensure caregivers teach children under 5 years old to always practice good sanitation and hygiene habits so they grow up healthy?
By understanding caregivers’ motivations and barriers, identifying their key emotional triggers, making the process easy through simple steps, and giving them the necessary tools to help them.
Introducing a national behavior change campaign to improve health outcomes of children and contribute to the reduction of stunting in Cambodia – Yey Komru’ (‘Role Model Grandmother’). The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and supporting partners have taken a multi-sectoral, collaborative approach to develop the Yey Komru package with tools that target both caregivers and children between 2 to 5 years old. It is based on 18 months of research and testing, and promotes 3 specific child-focused WASH behaviors:
Handwashing with soap at two critical times
Latrine adoption and ceasing open defecation
Safely treated and stored drinking water