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Does safe disposal of child faeces matter? An assessment of access to improved sanitation and child faeces disposal behaviour and diarrhoea in rural Nepal
Authors: Lamichhane P, Sharma A, and Mahal A
Source: International Health, 10(4):277-284; DOI: 10.1093/inthealth/ihy030
Topic(s): Diarrhea
Environmental health
Hygiene
Sanitation
Country: Asia
  Nepal
Published: JUL 2018
Abstract: Background: Improper disposal of child faeces is a major source of faecal pathogens that cause diarrhoeal disease. However, this has received relatively less attention in sanitation evaluation literature, which has tended to focus on sanitation provision, implicitly assuming that child faeces disposal behaviour also improves with sanitation. We examined the impact of improved sanitation without safe disposal (households with improved sanitation but not disposing of child faeces in improved sanitation) and improved sanitation with safe disposal (households with improved sanitation and disposal of child faeces in improved sanitation) on diarrhoeal prevalence in rural Nepal. Methods: Data from the Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2011 for 3377 children <5 y of age were used to answer the research question using quasi-experimental methods. Results: Improved sanitation with safe disposal was associated with a 3.3 percentage point (standard error [SE] 0.016) to 6.6 percentage point (SE 0.023) lower prevalence of diarrhoea among children <5 y of age compared with matched households without access to improved sanitation. No effect was observed for households having improved sanitation without safe disposal compared with matched households without access to improved sanitation. Improved sanitation with safe disposal was also associated with a 4.0 percentage point (SE 0.023) lower prevalence of diarrhoea in low economic status households (bottom two quintiles). Conclusions: Our results suggest that sanitation programmes need to focus on behavioural interventions as well as increasing access to sanitation facilities.