Promoting latrine use in rural India
Open defecation increases the risk of neonatal mortality, stunting and contracting infectious diseases. In 2015, over 520 million people practiced open defecation in India, with the vast majority concentrated in rural areas. Historically, sanitation programmes have promoted latrine use to reduce open defecation. However, few quantitative studies have focused on the effectiveness of latrine use in achieving this reduction.
Scoping out evidence on latrine use in rural India
To address this research gap, 3ie’s evidence programme is investigating the multidimensional supply and demand factors influencing latrine use in order to reduce open defecation. We published a scoping paper that highlights the most frequent barriers to latrine use, identifies issues with latrine use measurement, and provides evidence on the importance of latrine functionality and design for use. The authors elaborate on the lack of rigorous and theory-driven interventions to improve latrine use and outline a path forward to addressing evidence gaps.
Formative research informs impact evaluation
Based on the scoping study, 3ie is supporting evidence production to identify what promotes latrine use in rural India. To ensure that impact evaluations will be robust and useful, 3ie adopted a phased approach. In the first phase, 3ie awarded small grants to nine teams to conduct formative research and test small-scale pilot interventions over three months in rural areas of eight Indian states: Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Based on the first-phase results, 3ie is supporting four impact evaluations of theory-driven behaviour change interventions to promote latrine use in rural India. The teams will be implementing and evaluating their interventions over 12 months in four Indian states: Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka and Odisha.
These studies will contribute to the body of evidence on the design and implementation of context-specific, low-cost interventions that can be implemented and scaled up with the resources available through the India’s national Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission).
Independent study on measuring latrine use
3ie also commissioned an independent latrine use measurement study to be conducted among subsets of the impact evaluation samples. The study will assess the validity of latrine use measurements and allow us to test different tools for measuring latrine use.
3ie is collaborating with the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (r.i.c.e.) on this grant programme. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided funding support for this programme.
3ie is proud to be a partner of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA). SuSanA is an open international alliance whose members share a common vision on sustainable sanitation and are dedicated to understanding viable and sustainable sanitation solutions.