Challenges and facilitators of public engagement with water, sanitation, hygiene and other environmental health issues in Ghana and Uganda: Perspectives of scientists, journalists and the public

Bernard Appiah, Anubhuti Poudyal, David A. Anum, George Appiah, Andrew Christopher Wesuta, Kofi Akodwaa-Boadi, Ochieng Ogodo, Esther Nakkazi, Edgar M. Mulogo, Samuel Nii Odai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite many water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and other environmental health challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, little is known about interactions involving scientists, journalists and the public to aid public understanding of the relationship between WASH and health. Using purposive sampling, we conducted key informant interviews and focus group discussions with scientists, journalists and members of the public in Ghana and Uganda to identify issues associated with the promotion of public engagement with WASH and other environmental health issues. An inductive thematic analysis was used to explore the evidence, challenges and opportunities of public engagement. The effectiveness of public engagement was constrained by poor interactions between scientists and journalists and limited understanding among the public on WASH and other environmental health issues. Challenges identified included inadequate scientists–journalists collaborations, scientists’ lack of time, pressure from media organizations and concerns about journalists’ inadequate capacity to communicate environmental issues due to lack of training. Possible solutions included increased interactions, science communication training and using public information officers as knowledge brokers between scientists and journalists to boost public engagement with WASH and other environmental health issues. Our study contributes to the literature on the need to actively engage the public with WASH and other environmental health concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Environmental health
  • Public engagement
  • Science journalism
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • WASH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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