Recently, I read an article on marketing basic water treatment and sanitation systems. The authors had spent a lot of time investigating ways to achieve behaviour change in populations and implementing new technologies successfully. Their argument that you need to give people a choice was striking. If you come with one type of technology/design, people will look at it, but they lack the opportunity to compare it with different, but similar technology. Giving a community different types of technology will result in discussions and people will think about why they prefer one solution over another. Finally, everyone will choose the technology and design that suits their personality and situation best, resulting in full acceptance. Sometimes they even end up with totally new ideas of what is needed and how it should be designed.
We base our decisions on the information available and the experiences we have gathered in life. The more information we use, the more carefully we usually decide. Encouraging people to think and discuss and providing access to information are key challenges nowadays. Sometimes this means people need to learn how to learn and overcome traditional hierarchical education systems. In other cases, the greatest hindrance is lack of access to information, which is often limited simply by lack of infrastructure, such as internet access.
Are you aware that UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has called for action to reach the Millennium Development Goals during the fewer than 1,000 days left until 2015? He called on the international community to re-energize efforts from governments to grass roots groups to make a difference. This should encourage us to exchange information on what we do and how we do it, in order to inspire more people to look into the fascinating field of water and risk. Have your say and don’t be afraid to re-think and question things. We are more than happy to receive comments on this issue and look forward to your feedback.