The Practice of Health Communication in Urban Sanitation

The Case of Bahir Dar City Health Extension Sanitation Programme, Ethiopia

  • Melaku Mulugeta Adamu Amhara Mass Media Agency, Bahir Dar
  • Adem Chanie Ali Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar
Keywords: sanitation communication, health education, participatory communication, top-down communication


The main objective of the study was to examine the application of health communication in urban health extension sanitation programme in Bahir Dar City, Ethiopia. The study employed mixed research methods. Research participants of the study for the qualitative method are health extension workers, supervisors and health officers who are working in the city’s health department. Purposive sampling was applied to select these research participants. In addition, 159 model households participated in this study for the quantitative part using random sampling technique. The data collection tools include in-depth individual interviews, document analysis, observation and questionnaire. Participatory communication theory and social learning theory are used as theoretical frameworks. The findings show that health communication is not used as the basic ingredient of the sanitation programme. The finding reveals that the practice of health communication is dominated by top down or one way communication approach. As a result, the health communication practice is characterised by absence of active participation of the local community. The communication of the office is also characterised by lack of health education, infrequent sanitation communication activities and poor practice of health communication. The local community perceives health communication as information dissemination about urban sanitation activities, not as a dialogical process. The study recommends mainstreaming health communication and active participation of the community in all the phases of sanitation programmes so that the city can become clean and comfortable for the urban dwellers and visitors.

Author Biography

Melaku Mulugeta Adamu, Amhara Mass Media Agency, Bahir Dar

Melaku is a senior journalist in Amhara Mass Media Agency

How to Cite
Adamu, M., & Ali, A. (2020). The Practice of Health Communication in Urban Sanitation. The Journal of Development Communication, 31(2), 46-65. Retrieved from