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Social Mapping & Courtyard Sessions

To ensure sustainability of the Patuakhali project our partner organization Max Foundation focuses on increasing hygiene awareness and a feeling of ownership in the community. This sense of ownership enlarges local responsibility and therefore reinforces proper usage of facilities. To give you a better understanding of the applied methods 'social mapping' and 'courtyard sessions' we guide you through both processes. 



Social mapping is a visual method to identify households based on predefined indicators relating to socio-economic conditions (e.g. status, skills, property, education, income, etc.). The well-being of the population is ranked (by those living there) according to which household is better or worse off in terms of the selected indicators. The mapping provides information about households’ relative well-being and are useful for tracking change over time and for assessing which households benefit from the project. Social mapping is most useful when ranking households in areas of limited size, such as a small village like Patuakhali in this case.


The households of the Patuakhali project are mapped by income, property and current (and preferred) situation on water, sanitation and hygiene. Needs and possibiilties are identified; where do people collect their water? Which of the families are the poorest? Who can pay for their own latrine and who really needs subsidy to be able to build a latrine?

A map of the village was drawn (see photo above) indicating different socioeconomic situations. A red house indicates (what they call) a 'hardcore poor' household and a green house indicates 'rich'. The purple and black coloured houses lie in between and include the relative 'middle class'. A household is indicated hardcore poor, when the people living there don't have a job, don't own any land, stock, or animals and the house isn't of the best quality. In other words the more property you have, the richer you are. As the photo above shows; the village is a really poor village there are almost no green houses. After the mapping process the actual location of the well(s) was jointly agreed upon and also indicated on the map. 


Villagers attending a courtyard session in Madarbunia, Patuakhali  © Ernst Coppejans



Courtyard sessions will be held to increase awareness on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices. A courtyard sessions is a sort of get-together of villagers, in which WASH related topics will be discussed; a presentation will be held, good practices are shown and one can ask questions. Sometimes children from the village participate and perform a theatre play through which a certain subject can be addressed. Often women and children attend these sessions, since it's mostly still their job to collect water, take care of the children and prepare food e.g.


Last December we were present at a courtyard session in Madarbunia, Patuakhali. Although we do not speak Bengali we did understand the 'visualized' message that traces of animal faeces in your water or food will make you sick. This fact was explained by having a little windup doll walking through a bit of yellow curry on the tarpaulin on the ground. Naturally this was a fun way to attract attention of the group, and especially the children.


A woman demonstrating how to wash hands at a selfmade handwashing device  © Ernst Coppejans


Posters showing different moments of water use and good practices  © Ernst Coppejans

Author: Marie-Stella-Maris Foundation - March 16 2015, 15:12