A picture is worth a thousand words – collecting data using picture cards in Solomon Islands

An painted drawing of a young girl from Solomon Islands washing her hands with soap at a tap

One of the picture cards given to the community. (IWC & Griffith)


The failure to separate and contain the faeces of infants and young children, causes significant human health risks to Solomon Islanders. Many situational factors influence the way in which child faeces is managed, including low rates of access to safe sanitation facilities, varying knowledge and beliefs around children’s faeces, and the higher potential for transmission of pathogens from child faeces to children because of hand-to-mouth behaviours. While there is increasing focus on trying to close the sanitation gap for people living in the Solomon Islands, the safe management of children’s faeces is seldom considered. 

The Water for Women research project Promoting Safe Child Faeces Management in Solomon Islands led by the International WaterCentre at Griffith University in partnership with the Solomon Islands National University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, addresses this issue. 


The project aims to develop a behaviour change intervention that promotes safe child faeces management in rural Solomon Islands villages. To do so, the research team is conducting formative research to learn about current child faeces management practices, attitudes, motives (what makes people do or not do certain things related to child faeces management), and the different roles of men and women in childcare activities.


Three women wearing bright colour t-shirts are pointing to picture cards on a table that depict everyday scenes in rural communities

Community members discussing the image cards. (IWC)

A group of men from a community discuss the picture cards that lay on a table in front of them


Talking about faeces and sanitation can be uncomfortable for most people. Likewise, identifying your own motives for doing something that is normally a habit and talking about gender roles and norms can be difficult and complex. To overcome these difficulties, the research team opted to base the research interviews around pictures instead. Sometimes finding words to talk about difficult or complex and abstract topics can be daunting for participants, which is why the picture cards method is appropriate. Using picture cards means respondents can be prompted visually and externalise their replies, which helps to add richness to their responses.

It was important to the team that the picture cards we used were contextually relevant and culturally appropriate, which is why we engaged Solomon Islands artists to capture different situations related to daily household activities and child faeces management in rural Solomon Islands.  


A picture card of a man carrying two buckets


The picture cards tool is available to download and use from IWC & Griffith's project website.

If you would like to follow the research project, please visit their website.  














This blog was authored by Diana Gonzalez Botero and originally published in IWC's website, it has been published here with permission from IWC.


CFM: The Solomon Islands Infant and Child Faeces Management project is managed by the International WaterCentre at the Australian Rivers Institute within Griffith University and delivered with our research partners Solomon Islands National University, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The research is funded by the Australian Aid’s Water for Women, learn more about their project here


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