Everyday Clean (Usafi Kila Siku)

Engaging people and communities in Everyday Clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) interventions.

Professor Jude Robinson is a social anthropologist teaching and researching in the field of critical public health and sustainability, and the Professor of Health and Wellbeing here at the School of Social and Political Sciences. She has developed the project ‘Everyday Clean’ (or Usafi Kila Siku in Swahili) which is part of the broader interdisciplinary research conducted in the Somali Peninsula, East Africa by anthropologists and microbiologists as the UKRI GCRF project One Health Network for the HORN of Africa. Everyday Clean investigates and seeks to improve hygiene management in low-income environments in Kenya, where people live in close proximity to animals and wildlife.

Trough the support of the TRI, Professor Robinson and her team explored the role of storytelling to engage people and communities in Everyday Clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) interventions. Through the assessment of hygiene standards as part of the project, information for local communities was formatted into accessible visual and digital content, educating, and leading to positive health changes in individuals, families, and their livestock.

Image of hanging clothes

Clothes drying in Kware, Kenya                                                   

Research Study

Human and animal health are intertwined with local ecologies, and research has identified hygiene as a One Health issue. Around 60% of human pathogens are zoonotic, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that the impact of many neglected zoonotic diseases (NZDs) is,

‘… most severe on poor households in developing countries… Poor people are least likely to be currently diagnosed and treated against NZDs.’

Shifting environmental conditions and poor or insufficient hygiene facilitates the transmission of bacteria and viruses between and within species of animals; between humans; and between humans and animals. Around a third of the world’s population lives without regular access to adequate sanitation and even good hygiene practices can be compromised so many people struggle to stay clean. Although many people in East Africa spend time every day in environments where animals are present, much of the research into WaSH issues does not take account of the presence of animals and related hygiene practices in their study design. Over 50% of people in Sub Saharan Africa live in urban or peri-urban settings often with rapid population growth and many bring animals with them to the cities to keep as a source of food and income. Across East Africa, many farmers keep livestock and a high number of people are directly involved in routine aspects of animal husbandry. This includes feeding, watering, assisting with births, treating sick animals, milking, and the slaughter, butchery and disposal of dead animals, and each of these everyday encounters presents hygiene risks to animal and human health. Everyday clean practices can benefit the health of people and animals by creating productive and healthy environments that minimise the risk of zoonotic and other infections.

The study focused on women living on low-income in Kenya their gendered hygiene practices and daily contact with animals. Hygiene practices were typically different than for men because of traditional gender roles within these communities. It was found that:

  • The health risks of pets, pests and livestock to human health are poorly understood
  • Women remove visible dirt but are unaware of the need to wash clean hands
  • Women recognise the risks of some clear water to health
  • Understanding invisible risks to health could transform hygiene practices

The approach to Everyday Clean was informed by theories of capabilities, risk and gender and aims to better understand people’s ideas, beliefs and practices around cleanliness and hygiene. A participatory approach to data collection and analysis was undertaken and participants and communities were involved throughout the research.

For further information on the study and further insight into Jude’s research findings surrounding this project, access the following publications:

Robinson, J. and O. Howland (2021). "Visible and invisible risks: Exploring washing and hygiene practices with women living on low income in Kenya." Global Public Health: 1-14.

Robinson J, Majiwa H and Howland O (2022). Understanding Household Water Hygiene in Resource-Limited Settings in Kenya. Hygiene and Health in Developing Countries - Recent Advances. S Š Turk and P. U. Rozman. Rijeka, IntechOpen1-16.


Image of cleaned items

Wash buckets in Kware, Kenya

Everyday Clean (Usafi Kila Siku) Community Engagement

From the findings highlighted in the study, the team developed visual resources to communicate advice and information to communities on how to improve hygiene standards within the given social and environmental context. To create the digital content Chomoka Studios, a Kenyan animation studio was commissioned to assist on developing a 2-minute animation “Usafi Kila Siku” of the main findings of the project. This animation reminds people how important it is to wash your hands, and clean surfaces, even when they look 'visibly' clean.

As well as the animation, the team collaborated with Dr Zippora Okoth from the University of Kenyatta to create short stories used to communicate the Everyday Clean research findings to the local communities. These covered issues such as handwashing, hand hygiene, and water purification for drinking. An event was held in Kware in the summer of 2022 to give readings of the stories and to show an early version of the animation to members of the community to get their feedback and ensure that the messages were clear and acceptable to the intended audiences. A local video company were commissioned to capture the event and to gain additional feedback through interviews with participants.

The participants and wider community in Kware responded with enthusiasm and engaged with the information on improving sanitation and hygiene practices. The project coordinators and local partners reached over 300 households in Kware. The local community also raised further sanitation issues regarding improper garbage disposal which needs to be addressed.  Jude and her team are currently seeking to secure more funding to widen the reach and scope of the Everyday Clean .



Community engagement event in Kware

Partnership Funding

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