19 June 2019

Child Hygiene and Sanitation Training (CHAST)

Author/Compiled by
Stefanie Keller (seecon international gmbh)

Executive Summary

Children’s Hygiene and Sanitation Training (CHAST) is an approach for promoting personal hygiene among children. CHAST is based on the well-established Participatory Hygiene And Sanitation Transformation approach and uses a range of exercises and educational games to teach children aged between five and twelve about the links between personal hygiene and health. The approach is based upon the premise that hygiene practices are largely acquired during childhood and therefore it is much easier to change children’s habits than those of adults.

Improves personal hygiene practices of children.
Encourages children to actively participate in open discussions.
CHAST tools are meant to be fun for children, but still teach them about important and sometimes tabooised subjects.
Requires time and resources in order to organise and develop the CHAST tools and educate the children.
Experiences of the CHAST approach is based only on rural parts in Somalia, thus the material is very specific.
CHAST does not have a large impact if it is not accompanied at the same time by awareness raising methods for adults.
Awareness raising methods such as CHAST must at the same time enable people to take action.

What Is Child and Sanitation Training (CHAST)

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CHAST is an approach for promoting good hygiene among children and was developed in rural areas of Somalia. It is based upon the PHAST approach. PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation) is a participatory learning methodology that supports communities in improving hygiene behaviours, reduce diarrhoeal disease and encourage effective community management of water and sanitation services. CHAST applies a variety of exercises and educational games to educate children about the direct links between personal hygiene and good health.

Children playing cards within the CHAST approach. Source: IRC (2006)
Children playing cards within the CHAST approach. Source: IRC (2006)


CHAST is based on the premise that personal hygiene practices are usually acquired during childhood and therefore better to try changing the habits of children than those of adults. The PHAST approach was initially designed for adults and it has been carefully revised and adapted to suit the needs of young children. The CHAST approach takes advantage of the natural attributes that children have less knowledge and experience, fewer responsibilities and a different conception of time and the future and are also naturally inquisitive and eager to learn. CHAST encourages children to actively participate in open discussions and to share their experiences and ideas with their peers. In the CHAST exercises and games, children are encouraged to work independently in pairs or in small groups, and then to present their thoughts and findings to the larger group. CHAST tools are meant to be fun — involving games, exercises and role-plays that prompt the children to discuss and genuinely understand the key issues related to personal cleanliness and hygiene.

The Beginning of the CHAST Approach

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CHAST developed out of a series of sessions with schoolchildren in Northwest Somalia in the second half of 2002. Exercises and lessons of PHAST were reviewed and adapted to suit the needs and natural understanding of young Somali children. The resulting exercises tried to deliver essential hygiene lessons and information in a fun and memorable way — and a way that is conducive to the hygiene-conscious practices of daily Somali life and traditional Islamic culture. By giving children practical lessons and tips on improving their own cleanliness and hygiene, the CHAST approach aims to create an important channel for delivering these messages directly into local homes. CHAST uses a ‘child-to-child’ approach (see also empowering young people as activists) to encourage children to actively participate in open discussions and share their experiences and ideas with their colleagues.

The CHAST Steps

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Step 1: Introduction

The five CHAST steps. Source: DE VREEDE (2004)
The five CHAST steps. Source: DE VREEDE (2004)


The first step is meant as an icebreaker and allows the children to become familiar with the facilitators and the methods they will apply (find about more on icebreakers).


  • Participants introduce themselves
  • Everyday stories


During the first activity, the children introduce themselves with the help of a puppet which is combined with the introduction of the facilitators, the objectives of the course, the characters and the tools.

The second activity allows the children to reflect on their daily lives by telling stories with the help of drawings. To make it more suitable for children, the storytelling can be linked with the colouring of drawings.


Step 2: Problem Identification


  • Good and bad habits


The activity in the second step focuses on common health and hygiene problems and helps to identify problems. Cards show good and bad hygienic behaviours and have to be sorted into two piles; and many of them are generating corresponding pairs. Used together with the children, they first have to classify the cards and afterwards try to find all possible pairs. This exercise compares good and bad habits and focuses on hygienic behaviour that can cause the spread of diseases.


Step 3: Problem Analysis


  • Revision of good and bad habits
  • How germs are spread
  • Germs are spread by flies


The first activity is a revision of the problem identification. It is performed as a card game: “Pass the buck” for older children and memory for younger ones (read more on problem analysis (for adults) in Problem Tree Analysis). 

The second and third activities give an explanation of some of the common diseases that children can suffer from. This is done through telling a short story on the basis of posters, and a role-play done by some of the children after instruction from the facilitators.


Step 4: Practising Good Behaviour


  • Blocking the Routes of Germs
  • Hand-washing Exercise
  • Toilet Use Exercise
  • Tooth-brushing Exercise
  • Food Handling Exercise
  • Closing ceremony


This step demonstrates different actions for blocking the spread of diseases, and concentrates on practical training in good hygiene behaviour combined with role-plays and puppet shows. All the activities connect knowledge about the spread of diseases and their prevention to better hygienic behaviour. Practical exercises in small groups are carried out. During the final session, all of the participating children receive an award.


Step 5: Monitoring


  • Baseline surveys
  • Collecting data
  • Review and adaptation of tools


Monitoring needs to be planned from the beginning with a proper baseline survey. The monitoring and follow-up should prove the impact of CHAST and provide suggestions on how to improve its methods and tools (see also monitoring and evaluation).


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The CHAST training sessions applies a variety of enjoyable games and tools to encourage children to explore and discuss different elements of their own hygiene and sanitation. The main tools include:


Coloured Posters

The posters are generally of A4 size and laminated to make them more solid and durable. Coloured posters are much more attractive and easier to recognise than black-and-white ones.
The posters may be used for the following purposes:

  • To introduce the three characters of Aisha, Jama and Ali, who will guide the children through the CHAST session.
  • To start the CHAST sessions. These are mainly posters showing the characters involved in different situations within each topic.
  • To show Somali children involved in proper and poor hygienic behaviour (for ‘two-pile sorting’ exercises).
  • To illustrate short stories told by the children about hygienic problems and solutions.


Find out more on designing posters.



The CHAST puppet can be successfully used by both facilitators and children to contribute to discussions about important hygiene and sanitation issues. This can be helpful particularly by young girls and quiet children who may otherwise be shy about taking part in such discussions. Although the use of puppets is a new concept in Somali education, it has already proved a particularly popular addition to CHAST exercises in Northwest Somalia.


Puppet Shows

A puppet show is a special type of role-play, through which young children are encouraged to follow and take part in the scripted antics of the talking puppet. The use of a puppet — rather than a person — to raise sensitive subjects and activities makes it much easier for children to discuss previously ‘untouchable’ subjects. Puppets can also be used to criticise traditions or other sacrosanct issues. Humour should be an important part of a puppet show, helping to break down any embarrassment the children may feel in discussing sensitive subjects and encouraging them to engage in freer conversations during and after the show.


In general, role-plays are used in the context of awareness raising and in encouraging interaction between groups of children who previously did not know each other. In CHAST sessions, they can be used to illustrate situations from everyday life in order to raise awareness about common hygiene problems, to support decision-making processes, and to create a positive environment for the discussion of more sensitive topics. Because role-plays do not require obvious acting skills, they can successfully be used to help children enact and honestly describe real life situations (see also factsheet on role-plays).


Card Games

Two card games have been designed to reinforce lessons about proper and poor hygienic behaviour. Memory is used to help younger children remember good hygienic practices, while “Pass the Buck” encourages older players to find two cards illustrating the right and wrong ways of conducting their personal hygiene.

The CHAST Characters

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Three characters - Aisha, Jama and Ali - have been created to encourage the children to discuss specific hygiene and sanitation topics. These characters have been carefully designed so that Somali children can identify with them and their attitudes and actions.


Even though CHAST is being developed and applied in rural parts of Somalia, the idea behind the approach can be implemented in other rural regions around the world. The approach is based on the proven premise that personal hygiene practices are usually acquired during childhood and that it is therefore better to try changing the habits of children than those of adults. If you want to improve the hygiene practices of children in your area, you can apply the CHAST approach with its implementation steps and tools.

Library References
Further Readings

Hygiene and Sanitation Software. An Overview of Approaches

In sanitation and hygiene programme and service delivery, several methods are used to engage target groups in development programmes to enable behavioural change and/or create a demand for services. These methods or approaches are generally referred to as ‘software’, to distinguish them from the provision of ‚hardware‘. This publication takes an in-depth look at the various hygiene and sanitation software approaches that have been deployed over the last 40 years in all types of settings – urban, informal-urban and rural, and aims to address such issues as what a particular approach is designed to achieve, what it actually comprises, when and where it should be used, how it should be implemented and how much it costs, etc.

PEAL, A. EVANS, B. VAN DER WOORDEN, C. (2010): Hygiene and Sanitation Software. An Overview of Approaches. Geneva: Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) URL [Accessed: 16.06.2019]

Hygiene framework

This document sets out WaterAid’s framework for hygiene promotion and behaviour change in the countries where it works. It will also help organisations that work on hygiene in the context of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes.

WATERAID (2012): Hygiene framework. London: WaterAid URL [Accessed: 19.06.2019]

Handwashing With Soap Toolkit

This toolkit, intended for practitioners interested in behavior change, is organized into four modules: Behaviour Change, Sustainability, Integration and Results. Each has reports and presentations about the lessons learned from previous projects, as well as mass media, direct consumer contact, and interpersonal communication tools used throughout previous projects.

WORLD BANK (2013): Handwashing With Soap Toolkit. Washington: World Bank URL [Accessed: 15.05.2013]
Case Studies

Endline Assessment of the Enabling Environment in Peru

A new endline report discusses how Peru’s enabling environment for handwashing with soap has progressed since 2007. The research, conducted by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), indicates that the enabling environment has been strengthened at both national and regional levels. In addition, efforts to integrate and institutionalize handwashing with soap behavior change into national, regional, and local policies related to health and nutrition, education, water, and sanitation have largely been achieved.

FAVIN, M. WSP (2011): Endline Assessment of the Enabling Environment in Peru. Washington DC: Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) URL [Accessed: 24.10.2011]

Sanitation Matters - A Magazine for Southern Africa

Content in this issue: A Tool For Measuring The Effectiveness Of Handwashing p. 3-7; Five Best Practices Of Hygiene Promotion Interventions In the WASH Sector p. 8-9; Washing Your Hands With Soap: Why Is It Important? p. 10-11; Appropriate Sanitation Infrastructure At Schools Improves Access To Education p. 12-13; Management Of Menstruation For Girls Of School Going Age: Lessons Learnt From Pilot Work In Kwekwe p. 14 -15; WIN-SA Breaks The Silence On Menstrual Hygiene Management p. 16; Joining Hands To Help Keep Girls In Schools p. 17; The Girl-Child And Menstrual Management :The Stories Of Young Zimbabwean Girls. p. 18-19; Toilet Rehabilitation At Nciphizeni JSS And Mtyu JSS Schools p. 20 - 23; Celebratiing 100% sanitation p. 24 - 26.

WATER INFORMATION NETWORK (2012): Sanitation Matters - A Magazine for Southern Africa. South Africa: Water Information Network URL [Accessed: 19.06.2019]
Training Material
Awareness Raising Material

CHAST Presentation

This presentation provides an easy-to-understand overview of the CHAST approach. It complements the other publication on the approach insofar as it contains numerous illustrations and photographs.

CARITAS (2010): CHAST Presentation. Lucerne: Caritas

Alternative Versions to