Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Social Art for Behaviour Change Generates Long-Term Impact

Social Art for Behaviour Change Generates Long-Term Impact

By Anna Zisa, Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Management Advisor, One Drop Foundation

Perceptions and experiences of the protagonists of the SABC approach in the Lazos de Agua Program.

Halfway through its implementation, the Lazos de Agua Program embarked on various research to evaluate its contributions towards generating positive changes in the communities that participated in the interventions: regular program monitoring, a mid-term evaluation, and a third study that, using the Sprockler method, explored complex environments through a quantitative and qualitative approach based on interviews and storytelling.

Program monitoring and its midterm evaluation demonstrated that all of the interventions implemented under One Drop Foundation’s A·B·C for Sustainability model™ allowed more people to gain access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services. The research also showed an increase in the number of people uptaking behaviours such as handwashing, payment of water and sanitation service tariffs, as well as treatment and safe storage of household drinking water.

In addition to these surveys, narrative research conducted during the second half of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 enriched previous findings.

By using Sprockler, the goal was to identify the impacts of the interventions1 of One Drop’s Social Art for Behaviour Change™ approach in participating communities of the Lazos de Agua Program at both the individual and community levels. The main findings of this research are laid out in more detail below. The data captured was fed from SABC participants’ stories and their perceptions around the changes generated from these interventions. Feel free to visit this interactive report and hear or read what participants shared, or simply view the charts with the findings presented in this document.

Our Social Art for Behaviour Change approach - One Drop Foundation

In total, 177 Lazos de Agua participants were interviewed: 63 in Nicaragua, 50 in Mexico, 34 in Colombia, and 30 in Paraguay2. These people reflect the diversity of SABC participants and interventions, as they fall within a wide range of ages, from minors to seniors aged 60 and up, and they hold diverse occupations, including house cleaners, students, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, teachers, members of the Water User Committee, and community leaders.

Most of them are women (73%) and have participated in multiple SABC interventions (67%). Other respondents participated exclusively in processes related to artistic co-creation workshops (18%), Inspire interventions (10%), or in SABC activities facilitated by Leaders of Change3 (4%). Their participation took place in different moments throughout the program’s lifecycle, which, according to what they reported, speaks to the impact of SABC. For the majority, their most recent participation was less than six months ago (43%), whereas for others it was more than six months ago (33%), over a year ago (23%), or even more than two years ago (1%).

PDF version

Main findings

SABC interventions have generated memorable moments and topic retention, given their joyful, motivating, and innovative nature.

Participants shared important memories related to their experience in an SABC intervention. They mentioned how, through the intervention, they understood or learned something new that has become valuable to their daily lives:

“I remember we did a play with puppets which taught the importance of paying the water and sanitation service tariffs. It was a very inspiring moment for me as it was an experience I never had before and, through it, I learned we all have a shared responsibility when it comes to paying our tariffs”. – Paraguayan student and participant in multiple SABC activities referring to an experience one or two years prior.

“One of my fondest memories from the workshops as an Agent of Change was when a facilitator coached us and instilled in us the habit of modulating our voice. (…) This has greatly helped me in my daily life, as I always participate (…) and at the assembly meetings I need to tap into that voice”. – President of a Water User Committee in Nicaragua, participant in multiple activities speaking of an experience one or two years prior.

When sharing their memories, interviewees oftentimes included the words “water”, “hands”, and “community”, which allude to key topics of SABC interventions. For the great majority of interviewees (82%), the moments they referred to had happened more than six months ago. This demonstrates that several among them retained the key topics covered during the interventions despite the passage of time.

All interviewees associated positive emotions with these memories, particularly happiness, motivation, and commitment. The most common answer (given by 58% of respondents) when asked why they recalled what they did was “I had never experienced anything like this before”.

SABC interventions have brought about lasting changes in behaviour, perception, and/or skill set, reaching beyond the individual and extending into the household and the community.

Interviewees shared on changes they had perceived after participating in SABC interventions. 95% associated these changes to the behaviours addressed by the program, predominantly handwashing with soap (78%).

Consequent findings from program monitoring revealed that 13% more people are practising handwashing with soap than when Lazos de Agua was first implemented. Better water coverage also influenced the onset of this behaviour, in addition to SABC interventions. 29% of interviewees also recognized that the change they perceived relates to empowerment, social cohesion, leadership, and/or artistic skill set:

“The first change I noticed was in my school. The kids learned to wash their hands regularly and properly which, during a pandemic, suited us well. The community also pulled their weight and now they are up to date with their tariff payments and they attach more importance to the adequate use of water; they know now that what they are paying for is the service”. – Paraguayan teacher, SABC workshop participant from 1 or 2 years ago.

“The Water User Committee is made up of three communities. What we have felt is that the three communities are now in tightly knit coexistence. Before, each one would go about minding their own business, whereas now we are more connected, we talk more. People used to go to meetings but did not speak much. Ever since the workshop, people have become more open, more engaged, they ask more questions, and we like that”.

-Mexican farmer, member of the Water User Committee, participant in an activity that took place less than six months ago.

When asking interviewees to identify where they have noticed a change, using a triangle with points labelled “my home”, “my community”, and “myself”, most of them placed changes in the middle and between their home and their community, with only one respondent noticing change only within himself (see Figure 1).

Participants who attended one or multiple activities claimed that SABC interventions were the catalyst of the changes perceived. Most of them, even those who had not participated in a SABC intervention in over a year, believed that the changes they saw will last years (see Figure 2).

There is an opportunity for the SABC approach to better influence gender equity.

Interviewees were asked whether perceived changes were more prominent in men, women, or both, and why. Their answers reflect traditional gender roles and a patriarchal society bias. For instance, one person answered “change applies to men as well, but less so than for women. Men are a support for women who stay at home with the children, that’s the way things are and we cannot change them”.

As part of the systemic intervention proposed by Lazos de Agua Program, SABC interventions promote consistency and repetition of behavioural changes.

To maintain change and act cohesively, participants reported they would require continued practice and reminders of these changes as well as ongoing learning opportunities. Varied SABC interventions involving different community members are implemented in each community, given that behaviour change requires consistency and repetition.

However, the success of SABC interventions relies on the level of access to WASH services and to a market that provides related goods and services. In this regard, some participants mentioned a need for easier access to materials or resources that allow them to keep these changes up. For instance, only 62% of them reported having regular access to a handwashing station, 84% to soap, 69% to purifying materials for drinking water, and 73% to a bowl and utensils for safe water storage.

Lack of access becomes a barrier towards adopting the desired behaviours. As this cannot be overcome exclusively through social art, the SABC approach must be part of a systemic operation. For this reason, the A·B·C for Sustainability model encourages and enables an ideal space where its three components (Access, Behaviour change, and Capital) work in synergy to reduce barriers to these behaviours and increase motivators—those which enable the practice—to attain lasting change.

Within the scope of Lazos de Agua Program, these findings are just a few of the many positive impacts of SABC interventions reported at the individual and community levels. Learn more about the program, the SABC approach, and the A·B·C for Sustainability model at

Subscribing to the newsletter is a great way to keep informed about our projects.

1. SABC interventions are participative art-based activities such as shows, workshops, and debates looking to inspire and activate the adoption of desired behaviours and to sustain their practice.
2. Number of interviewees up until February 16, 2021. 50 interviews for each project to be completed by July 2021.
3. In general, Leaders or Agents of Change are community members who participate in SABC workshops and then lead an intervention in their communities.

SABC workshop with students, participants of the Y Kuaa Project in the Department of Paraguarí, Paraguay. Photo: One Drop Foundation / Terry Hughes

As part of an SABC process, Y Kuaa project participants and artists creating a mural in the Pegualjho community using sgrafitto technique . Photo: One Drop Foundation / Terry Hughes

One Drop, A·B·C for Sustainability, and Social Art for Behaviour Change are trademarks owned by the One Drop Foundation.

Keep reading about Lazos de Agua

Url Copied
Subscribe to the newsletter!