Social Art is a creative, participatory process aimed at inspiring change in individuals and by extension, communities. These programs are reflections on “what is” versus “what could and should be”, that eventually motivate people to improve their quality of life. Such art forms not only entertain people, but also trigger them into thinking, feeling, and behaving differently about crucial social issues.

Water For People India promotes behaviour change regarding WASH by engaging in various forms of social art. We have designed an integrated approach of “Inspire – Activate – Sustain” for continuous reinforcement of positive WASH behaviours with the use of IEC materials and Behaviour Change Communication (BCC).

Social Art plays a key role in making people question the status quo and bringing about societal changes


activities (multi-disciplinary shows) focus on raising awareness about identifying the problem and the necessary behaviour change in the targeted audiences.


activities (street plays and magic shows) focus on representing self and social liberation, where targeted audiences are educated on how norms play a role in shaping what one can do and think


activities (film screenings and use of IEC materials) focus on stimuli control (nudge) and removing triggers for problematic behaviours. Social support is continued so that targeted audiences discuss and agree on their capacity to resist temptations (setbacks) and maintain confidence in healthy behaviour.

Our projects are based on locally inspired art forms such as Alha-Rudal (a form of story recitation by one person with music), Nat-Natin Nach (play and dance by a couple), Lok-Geet (folk songs), theatre, short films, and other creative materials. We engage local artists and other agents as facilitators for negotiating the change. Most of these local artists are daily wagers or farmers, but who also have an interest in art and local customs. Water For People India identified them, built their capacities through training, and helped them register their groups. These social art groups work for Water For People India as well as engage with the government and other development partners.

The Behaviour Change Framework: Inspire – Activate – Sustain

# Type of Intervention Main Objective Scale Target Population
Inspire (Awareness and Information)
  • Societal
  • Community based
  • Awareness
  • Education
  • Large scale community-wide activities
  • Community
Activate (Behaviour, Action)
  • Tailored activities for Water Awareness, Conservation, In-home reduction of Water consumption
  • Behaviour change
  • Adoption/Replication of Models and Processes
  • Habitbuilding
  • Focused groups such as community-based organizations, school students etc.
  • Self Help Groups
  • Farmer Clubs
  • Students
  • Youth
  • School-Based Groups and Management Committees
Sustain (Habit)
  • Documentation and Media
  • Capacity building
  • Fostering new skills and habits
  • Adoption/replication of new models and processes
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Targeted Audience (Households)
  • Agents of change/champions, community members, social art groups, village institutions

Social Art Interventions

After extensive testing and consultations, following activities were decided to be at the core of our interventions:

Multi-disciplinary Shows: Raise awareness, mobilize communities, promote adoption of critical behaviours, and create a demand for services that help practice that behaviour.

Street Theatre Performances: Generate awareness and trigger behaviour change on focused themes.

Film Screening: Disseminate messages, initiate discussions, and explore resistances to sustained change through films that are educational, entertaining, and popular in the community.

Strategic Shift in Social Art

Water For People India concluded three key studies in 2017: a mid-term evaluation, a water quality study, and an O&M study. Based on the collective results, the Integrated Behavioural Model for WASH (IBM-WASH) was developed to: .

  • (i) Shortlist key behaviours for change
  • (ii) Identify key barriers and determinants
  • (iii) Prioritize groups/target audiences.

Following key behaviours have been identified for immediate addressing

S. No. Behaviours Target Audience
Primary Secondary Influencers
  • Safe water storage
  • Water handling practices
  • Women
  • Children
  • Mother-in-laws
  • Teachers (for adolescent and children)
  • Women’s groups
  • Usage of latrines
  • Head of the household
  • None
  • Neighbours who have toilets and are using it
  • Handwashing with soap and water at five critical times
  • Mothers
  • Adolescents
  • Elders
  • School Teachers
  • Peers
  • Husbands

All the above activities are followed by monitoring and feedback sessions, along with interpersonal communication with Field Facilitators – on-ground staff members, professionally trained in conducting social art activities. A Field Facilitator toolkit includes guidelines to conduct MDS, street plays, and screening of short films, accompanied by a diary to record feedback and observations.