Skip to main content
Community Contribution

A Tool to Measuring Social Norms Change: Social Analysis and Action in USAID Afia WASH in Sudan

Jul 01, 2024
Tahmina Haque

The USAID Afia WASH program currently works in five counties of South Sudan to achieve the following three objectives: 1) Strengthen sub-national and private WASH sector coordination 2) Expand inclusive and resilient WASH service delivery 3) Promote key WASH behaviors in communities and address harmful gender norms. 

Social Analysis and Action (SAA) is one of the approaches Afia WASH uses to change expectations of gender roles (particularly for WASH) and address harmful gender norms. SAA uses dialogues and exercises with a diverse group of people from one community – and puts forth scenarios and topics for the group to discuss. Through reflection on reasons for certain gender roles and expectations – the SAA group members discuss solutions to any issues they themselves identify as problems and put together an action plan on how to make changes in their relationships or their community.

Setting Indicators for Measuring Social Norms Change 

CARE led a workshop with Afia WASH staff on Outcome Mapping. This five-day workshop involved staff from all aspects of the project, including staff not only from gender and behavior change but also those involved in infrastructure, governance and monitoring. The workshop brought together the expertise and experience of team members to develop outcomes for “desired” social norms change. Staff considered their own biases, and traditions within the communities they work and live, along with the findings from the baseline studies, to develop specific indicators of behaviors that they would “Expect, Like and Love” to see (change) as a result of the Afia WASH program. For example, staff discussed that they would “Expect” a result of their programming to lead to more women in WASH committees; they would “Like” to see women participate more fully and they would “Love” to see women in leadership roles.

Engaging Men & Boys 

As part of implementing a strategy for the Prevention of Gender Based Violence, Afia WASH conducts the “Engaging Men and Boys (EMB)” approach in Akobo County. The dialogue sessions target two women’s groups and two men’s groups, all from the same community. EMB uses scenarios and facilitates discussion on gender and social norms that affect the WASH Service delivery.

Tool Development 

As a result of the workshop, a Gender expert from CARE organized each of the proposed indicators into six domains: 1) Gender division of labor and work-sharing, 2) Intra-household negotiation and decision-making, 3) Control of income and productive assets/resources, 4) Women’s leadership and self-confidence, 5) Respect and Open communication at household level and 6) Intimate Partner Violence and Peace in the home. Next, a pilot “SAA Outcome Mapping Measuring Tool” was developed to measure communities’ perceptions of change within each of these domains. A selection of “Expect, Like, Love” to see” indicators from each of the six domains were formed into “statements” that participants could either agree or disagree with. The idea was to quantify the social norms change – a specifically qualitative intervention revolving around opinions, experiences, expectations and discussions – in a more quantitative way where change can be seen and measured over time. 

Piloting in Wau 

In January 2024, two Afia WASH staff went to Wau to pilot the SAA Outcome Mapping Measurement Tool in two different communities, Abshaka and Biringi. In each community, the facilitators split the SAA group into men and women. A facilitator sat with the women (or men) and read each statement out loud. Participants raised their hands if they agreed with the statement, (and did not raise their hands if they did not agree). The facilitator marks how many people agree with each statement. After this “quantitative” portion of the tool, the facilitator encourages discussion through six open-ended questions. Next, the tool was piloted in the same community with “non-SAA“ community members (men and women also separate). This was done to see if there were differences in the way SAA and non-SAA members agreed or disagreed with the statements. For non-SAA members, the exercise took just 20 minutes, whereas the SAA groups took over 45 minutes – due to the rich and detailed discussion on personal, household and social changes experienced, and remaining challenges. After piloting with the four groups the Afia WASH staff revised the tool and the phrasing of the statements for easier translation. 

Results from Wau pilot 

The SAA group in Abshaka has met 5 times over 5 months. The SAA members perceive positive change in gender norms within each of the six domains, especially compared to responses from the non-SAA community members. In the SAA groups men and women both “agreed” with statements that indicated more “progress” for gender equality, as compared to people in non-SAA groups. For example, more SAA group members agreed with the statement “Women and men have improved relationships due to better communication” than in non-SAA groups. Across the groups, there were many interesting comments noted during the discussions after the quantitative portion of the tool that captured additional anecdotes of change in gender norms and practices.

SAA GroupsQuotes
MenI collect two big jerrycans of water every day to support my family. This is because we drink from the protected well which is a one-hour walk from my home.
I take responsibility for bringing my sick children to the hospital with my wife.
In my house, the boys sweep the compound and girls wash utensils or vice versa – we all share in household chores equally.
I used to fight my wife all the time. Whenever she delays at the water point when she goes to the market when the food is cold. However, after attending SAA sessions, I have stopped beating my wife.
WomenI moved out of the home because my husband never helped with household chores. Now he is appreciative of all that I do and he also helps.
It is now normal for men to help us with water collection and even cleaning and bathing the children.

The next steps for measuring social norms change 

During piloting, the SAA Outcome Mapping Measurement Tool was preliminarily used to compare potential differences in the opinions and experiences of community members who are and are not in SAA groups. In future settings, the tool will be primarily employed for baseline, midline and endline comparisons of social norms change over time within the same SAA group, before, during, and after the Social Analysis and Action dialogues. 


Afia WASH is a project funded by USAID and led by DT Global Inc, in collaboration with CARE and other partners. The project period is 2021-2026.

About the authors
Tahmina Haque

Senior Technical Advisor- Knowledge Management & Research with CARE USA