Messages in Mud

Posted on 16th Apr by James Knight − Category: News

This wet season has brought a sharp rise in the cases of typhoid in the hospitals around Kampala. It’s a horrible disease that mainly affects children and young adults and it kills hundreds of thousands each year.

The outbreak is becoming so serious that the Ugandan Health Authority have been issuing bulletins on the radio with advice to prevent it spreading and The Red Cross has been distributing leaflets in the communities where we work. We are also joining the effort against typhoid in our own campaign to raise awareness. The Practical Team is teaching groups in each slum, explaining how the disease is spread, its symptoms and how families can protect themselves through good hygiene and awareness of the available healthcare. We are making these sessions really interactive – getting the messages across using role play, discussions and questions.

In addition, we are trying out a new method of communication, which we hope will reach even more members of the slum communities – Mud Murals!


The children notice the murals as they play. This one says, ‘Let’s stop typhoid. Wash your hands before you eat.’

We created stencils out of old x-rays that we had in the office and cut out four messages, giving basic sanitation and hygiene advice to combat the spread of typhoid. With people’s permission, we used the stencils to sponge and brush the messages onto homes and buildings in prominent places for many people to read as they walk past.

Mud mural stencil

Old x-rays came in very handy – can you see the bones? This is, ‘Boil your water before drinking’.

The ‘paint’ mixture consists of mud or termite mound soil, cassava flour (to bind it) and water. They stand out really well against the concrete walls that you see as you walk around the slums and are already attracting the attention of children as they pass by. The good thing about the Mud Murals is that they last a couple of months, surviving rains, and can be removed easily with a brush at any time. This makes them perfect for a targeted awareness campaign and a good way of getting people to agree to some writing on their house!

We hope that this innovative approach of using temporary graffiti will get many more messages across in a low-cost and effective way.

OH0A4002 (2)

They catch the eye of passers by.

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‘Don’t touch dirty water’.

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