The Clean Life for Timor-Leste

The issue of poo is never far from the minds of new parents – what mess was made and who bore the brunt. So it is with poo in the still-new nation of Timor-Leste. Around 15% of Timorese children aged under 5 years suffer from potentially deadly diarrheal disease, including from not washing their hands with soap and lack of access to improved sanitation. The government and donor parents of the nation are constantly worrying about their children’s poo, investing heavily in a hygienic future for Timor-Leste. It was in this context that Tulodo’s Nick Goodwin was in Timor Leste to help develop the new Australian DFAT-funded Partnership for Human Development (PHD) sanitation program.

Using a behaviour centred design (BCD) approach, the Moris Mos (Clean Life) brand was the result of a process consisting of three main elements – mixed method research, consultation with stakeholders and testing with priority communities. The mixed method research was conducted in mid-2017 by Tulodo’s Goodwin and Wibowo, focused on the district of Bobonaro in northwest Timor-Leste. The study used several frameworks of analysis for the data: behavioural determinants, value exchanges, segmentation and case studies. One key finding was that the benefits of sanitation most highly valued by the community were comfort and safety. Pride and dignity shone as major motivators for maintaining improved household toilets.

The study enabled the development of three segments to be targeted for the Moris Mos Hygienic Initiative: Champions, Aspirationals and Vulnerables. The WASH Champion is a leader and early adopter. They use an improved toilet and have a plan to improve their toilet, and they have specific place for handwashing. WASH Aspirationals are the early majority and have potential for change. They use an improved toilet and most have a plan to improve. However, there is no specific place for handwashing with soap. WASH Vulnerables are high risk and need intense support. They use an unimproved toilet and do not have a plan to upgrade in the next 12 months, with no specific place for handwashing at home.

Next was the development of the umbrella brand that could cover both improved toilets and handwashing with soap, as well as be flexible enough to add elements in future years, e.g. solid waste disposal.  In late 2017, PHD hosted a brand development workshop in Dili to review the research and decide on a way forward. The Moris Mos “Clean Life” was born. The brand statement: The Moris Mos (Clean Life) Hygienic Initiative helps ensure a better, cleaner life for the modern Timorese family using an improved toilet and a place to wash hands with soap to ensure a long life of dignity, comfort and safety.”

In keeping with BCD principles, Tulodo returned to the communities in Bobonaro to test and further develop the brand and its messages. We conducted several sessions with the local administrative post, ministry of health and other partners. We also conducted focus group discussions with members of the community, facilitated by the local partner NGO, HealthNet. Next steps include finalisation of the brand, rollout of the voucher program, development of the community mobilisation activities, training of suppliers and communications materials. Soon we hope the people of Timor-Leste will be enjoying the clean life.

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Nicholas Goodwin

Behaviour change and international development guy.

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