Thesis subject

Reducing Open Defecation for Refugee Children in Tanzania

Tanzania is host to over 237,833 refugees, fleeing mostly from war and political strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi. They are settled in three UNHCR refugee camps within the Kigoma region in Western Tanzania; Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli.

A pressing problem is open defecation by young children (under five). The Dutch Surge Support Water (DSS) is a government funded initiative to assist humanitarian organizations with expert support during water-related disasters. UNHCR has contacted DSS with the request to support with this study. UNHCR in Tanzania works with International and Local implementing organizations such as NRC to improving hygienic facilities in the refugee camps through e.g. hygiene promotion sessions and provision of infrastructure. A recent initiative that is foreseen is the distribution of potties to reduce open defecation by young children.

A study into the (mis)perceptions and practices regarding children’s faeces, effectiveness and impacts of potties and other activities/interventions, and hygienic facilities more generally can inform ways in which hygienic behaviour of refugees can be stimulated. UNHCR currently monitors latrine use and related hygienic behaviour through surveys and other data. However, more detailed data and analysis are required to identify the reason for high open defecation levels by children under five, and further into developing and proposing mechanisms to change the undesired behaviour currently practiced. The master thesis project will help to analyse the existing data and collect additional data. There is the option to do field work in the camps but it is also possible to work remotely (online) with UNHCR to retrieve and analyse data.

For the study we are looking for a Master student interested in a behaviour change study for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Promotion (WASH) in refugee camps. The study aims at an integrated analysis of individual, social-cultural and material-environmental factors for health/hygiene behaviour. We consider the topic to be most relevant for students in International Development (MID), Development and Rural Innovation (MDR), Communication, Health and Life Sciences (MCH).