Households living in densely populated urban slums often lack the space for their own toilet, making shared sanitation the only viable solution. This is the situation in Dhaka, where many of the city’s low-income residents depend on one of the city’s enormous number of shared compound toilets: a recent study by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh (icddr,b) estimated that 4.3 million people in Dhaka use such facilities. While shared compound toilets can play a central role in urban sanitation provision, it is notoriously difficult to keep these facilities clean and well-maintained, leading to an unhygienic and unpleasant user experience and often to under-use or eventual abandonment.
As part of its 2012 – 2015 DFID-funded research programme, WSUP commissioned a research project in Dhaka to explore behaviour change strategies to help users keep their toilets clean and functional. The study aimed to design, pilot and rollout low-cost behaviour change messaging approaches and associated simple hardware provision. The research team used a randomised control trial (RCT) design to evaluate the impact of the intervention on toilet cleanliness and other metrics. The results indicate that this type of behaviour change approach can be strongly beneficial to shared toilet cleanliness and functionality.
This Discussion Paper presents the context, methodology, results and conclusions of the study. The paper is derived from the final report of researchers from icddr,b, Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
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