Climate impacts on gender equality in WASHA photovoice assessment

Data Collection

Unpacking significance

Smartphone Photography

Data Analysis

Thematic Analysis

Sensemaking Workshop


As part of the Australian Government’s Water for Women Fund, SNV is currently wrapping up a collaboration with the governments of Nepal, Bhutan and Lao PDR, and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF). The partnership has sought equitable and universal access to safely-managed sanitation and hygiene in seven districts in Bhutan and Lao PDR, and to sustain rural water supply services in a further two districts in Nepal; setting in place the mechanisms needed to look “Beyond the Finish Line.” 

In Bhutan, SNV has been supporting the Ministry of Health’s national Rural Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (RSAHP) since 2008. Focused on four underserved districts, the program has aimed to strengthen government and our partners’ focus on quality and attention to disadvantaged groups in leveraging political commitments, and introducing decentralised and cost-sharing mechanisms. Responding to emerging issues, RSAHP looks beyond the finish line by safely managing sanitation services and universal access for all, strengthening emerging civil society organisations’ (CSOs) capacity in the WASH sector, and investing in women’s leadership and institutional change.

Assessment Objective

This study was a partnership between SNV Bhutan and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney, funded by the Water for Women fund. It sought to adapt tools found in the online quaKit to explore climate change aspects in WASH programs. The qualKit is an online toolkit of qualitative assessment tools for projects exploring gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in WASH interventions.

The study conducted an adapted photovoice activity with eight participants from Tashiding, Dagan in rural Bhutan.

To investigate the connections between the nexus of:

  1. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
  2. climate change (CC)
  3. gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI)

in order to strengthen the next phase of the program.


Ten potential participants  were selected by local community leaders who shared these names with the SNV program team. All ten potential participants were invited to the workshop and eight people opted in. Potential participants were from a variety of local villages with different levels of water and sanitation access. 

The participants included two men and six women. One man was a local plumber who provided rich insights on the status of the water systems in the area. The other man was a local monk who provided spiritual descriptions on the impacts of climate. One of the women was the mother of a disabled child. Other women participants included a single mother and a mother with two children.

Data Collection

  • Potential participants were first invited to a one-day workshop (November 25, 2022) where the process was explained and participants could decide if they wanted to participate. 
  • In a workshop setting, participants were introduced to basic smartphone photography skills and ethical considerations. A small demonstration of tablet and phone usage was given. Extra phones and tablets were provided to participants who didn’t have their own and wished to use the technology. Others were provided with pen and paper. While none of the final photos included people, ethical discussions on how to best include people in images was discussed.  
  • Next, the facilitators introduced the photovoice prompt and led a short discussion to clarify the definition of climate change. While the community was familiar with concepts of WASH, they were unfamiliar with aspects of climate change. 
  • Participants were then given time to make or create images. Several participants were not comfortable using smartphones and so were encouraged to draw pictures. One participant was not comfortable using a pen, so the facilitators drew images as per her descriptions and with her support. However, this was found to be a more inclusive version of the photo-voice activity which did not require digital literacy. 
  • Once the images were created, participants were encouraged to select five images to share. Captioning interviews were held one-on-one between the facilitator and the participant. The interviews were structured using a photo-story submission template

Data Curation and Sensemaking

  1. Forty photo-stories were imported into Airtable and captions edited lightly for clarity. We refer to the outputs as photo-stories, although 10 submissions were drawn images. 
  2. Thematic analysis was conducted iteratively on the photo-stories in Airtable – identifying the main focus of the photo-stories. 
  3. Collaborative thematic analysis was conducted through an online workshop to discuss the key themes of the photo-stories. 
  4. A photo-book was prepared, curating the photo-stories into thematic chapters.

The full photo-story gallery can be found here:


Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Climate impacts on gender equality in WASH: Photo-stories

This visual report shares the photovoice results of the assessment of climate impacts in rural Bhutan. The report shares 40 photo-stories by eight rural community members.

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Climate impacts on gender equality in WASHLearning Brief

This learning brief summarises the findings from the photovoice activity in Bhutan. It shares thematic analysis of the different photo-stories and clarifies the stories by theme.