2023 journal article
Assessing sustained uptake of latrine and child feces management interventions: Extended follow-up of a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Bangladesh 1-3.5 years after intervention initiation
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HYGIENE AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, 250.
Sanitation interventions typically result in modest increases in latrine access, and any gains in latrine access and use are often not sustained over time. Sanitation programs also rarely include child-focused interventions such as potties. We aimed to assess the sustained effect of a multi-component sanitation intervention on access to and use of latrines and child feces management tools in rural Bangladesh.We conducted a longitudinal substudy nested within the WASH Benefits randomized controlled trial. The trial provided latrine upgrades, child potties and sani-scoops for feces removal, along with behavior change promotion to encourage use of the delivered hardware. Promotion visits to intervention recipients were frequent during the first 2 years after intervention initiation, decreased in frequency between years 2-3, and ceased after 3 years. We enrolled a random subset of 720 households from the sanitation and control arms of the trial in a substudy and visited them quarterly between 1 and 3.5 years after intervention initiation. At each visit, field staff recorded sanitation-related behaviors through spot-check observations and structured questionnaires. We assessed intervention effects on observed indicators of hygienic latrine access, potty use and sani-scoop use and investigated whether these effects were modified by duration of follow-up, ongoing behavior change promotion and household characteristics.The intervention increased hygienic latrine access from 37% among controls to 94% in the sanitation arm (p < 0.001). Access among intervention recipients remained high 3.5 years after intervention initiation, including periods with no active promotion. Gains in access were higher among households with less education, less wealth and larger number of residents. The intervention increased availability of child potties from 29% among controls to 98% in the sanitation arm (p < 0.001). However, fewer than 25% of intervention households reported exclusive child defecation in a potty or had observed indicators of potty and sani-scoop use, and gains in potty use declined over the follow-up period, even with ongoing promotion.Our findings from an intervention that provided free products and intensive initial behavior change promotion suggest a sustained increase in hygienic latrine access up to 3.5 years after intervention initiation but infrequent use of child feces management tools. Studies should investigate strategies to ensure sustained adoption of safe child feces management practices.