CAFOD Wash Project

A water and sanitary health project in Zimbabwe.

A water and sanitary health project in Zimbabwe.

2013 – 2015

Project Location:

Project Managers:
Matt Daw

Matt Daw



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Project description:
CAFOD’s 3-year Water and Sanitary Health project in Zimbabwe aims to ensure that everyone in the target communities has access to enough clean safe water, and knows how to protect themselves from disease through good hygiene practices.  PhotoVoice was enlisted to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation process by working with beneficiaries and local partners to provide tools for advocacy and create and support a process where participants define and communicate their issues and concerns using photography and digital media.

Project Aims: 

  • Inform Process: To engage the communities targeted by the WASH programme in examining and evaluating their own hygiene and water usage practices through photography, informing priorities and approaches for the WASH programme.
  • Chart Progress: To build a body of photographs and interview data that charts changes in attitudes, practices, understanding and quality of life in the lives of sample families and the wider community over the 27 months of the project cycle.
  • Increase Beneficiary Engagement: To build better understanding and engagement with the programme amongst the communities involved, and give them a sense of the wider programme, and the opportunity to feed into advocacy work and reports that deal with the issues affecting them.
  • Supporter Engagement: To generate photographic work that reflects not only the problems that the WASH programme seeks to address, but also the successes of its implementation, the identification with individuals within communities and to promote the programme and its value for CAFOD supporters, the UK public and to develop more effective advocacy outputs around these issues.

The CAFOD Wash programme began in April 2013 and ended in March 2015. PhotoVoice facilitated training for local CAFOD staff and NGO partner staff to cover the technical aspects of digital photography and how participatory photography could be used as a tool in participatory conclusion and feedback.

Training in participatory photography also took place for female representatives of community committees and teachers from 4 target schools which resulted in photo stories highlighting current issues and attitudes around health and hygiene. A key part of the process was 1-day participatory photography workshops in 4 schools for children and teachers, in order to enable them to explore their perspective on the current situation of hygiene and access to water.

Integrated throughout the project were regular reviews and re-orientation sessions with local CAFOD staff who committed to uploading photos for PhotoVoice to populate a multimedia ‘map’ of the project area in order to chart progress and developments.

The use of photography in the targeted communities enabled schools and Caritas to raise awareness of clean hygiene practices.

“I’d like to thanks the CARITAS and PhotoVoice team. I was using a pit latrine then a photo was taken and I was motivated to construct a proper blair toilet.  This programme is helpful for those in the community who do not have blair toilets. I hope the programme continues the development of our community, so that more people in the community can have better toilets.”  – Project participant

Project Outputs: 
PhotoVoice has trained 30 adults and 40 young people in photography and visual literacy across more than 20 villages in the peri-urban region of Mutare, Zimbabwe. These ‘Community PhotoVoice Officers’ used their cameras to document issues, problems, improvements and examples of good practice around the theme of WASH issues. The photographic outputs produced were pivotal in exposing some practices which had otherwise been assumed obsolete, for example, high-income community members using temporary toilets. In some cases, the effect of the photos at an individual level was to foster increased understanding and better commitment to improving their health. Outputs were shared through a local exhibition and community engagement on the issues brought up by their photographs. The workshops that took place in four schools resulted in a display of photos, captions and information for the benefit of the whole school and wider school community.

Given the socio-cultural context of the project, the active participation of women in both the WASH programme and PhotoVoice component is something to be highlighted; these women were empowered to be educators and drivers of development in their local area.

Through interviews with the ‘Community PhotoVoice Officers’ it is possible to see that participants were able to take ownership of the WASH project through digital story telling.

“The photo I am holding shows young boys drinking water from a stream, which is dangerous to our health as it causes diseases like bilharzia and malaria.” – Project Participant

Project Gallery:

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