Category Archives: Research

Recent WASH research, updates to Global Waters




Recent WASH research – August 9, 2017


Understanding open defecation in rural India: Untouchability, pollution, and latrine pits. Diane Coffey, Aashish Gupta, Payal Hathi, Dean Spears, Nikhil Srivastav, Sangita Vyas, December 2016.

Human Rights and Taxation of Menstrual Hygiene Products in an Unequal World. book chapter in HUMAN RIGHTS AND TAX IN AN UNEQUAL WORLD (Philip G. Alston and Nikki Reisch eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018.

UNICEF Field Notes on Community Approaches to Total Sanitation: LEARNING FROM FIVE COUNTRY PROGRAMMES. UNICEF, June 2017.

EXPLORING CROSS-SECTOR LINKAGES BETWEEN POPULATION, HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT, NUTRITION AND FOOD SECURITY: A Review of Best Practices and Lessons Learned. ABCG, June 30, 2017. Incorporate WASH into nutrition and food security programming to enhance outcomes of the nutrition programs and to build a more comprehensive program to improve health.


Does depression moderate handwashing in children? BMC Public Health, August 1, 2017.

Antibacterial efficacy of local plants and their contribution to public health in rural Ethiopia. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control, July 28, 2017. Proper hand hygiene with soap and detergents prevents the transmission of many infectious diseases. This study aims to determine the antibacterial activities of some of the plants against bacteria isolated from humans.

Human Health Risk Assessment Applied to Rural Populations Dependent on Unregulated Drinking Water Sources: A Scoping Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, July 28, 2017.

The global burden of disease study 2013: What does it mean for the NTDs? PLoS NTDs, August 3, 2017.

Empirical evidence of the public health benefits of tropical forest conservation in Cambodia: a generalised linear mixed-effects model analysis. Lancet Planetary Health, August 2017. Strictly managed protected areas in Amazonia seem to have reduced biophysical disruption from deforestation and restricted people’s exposure to disease sources, which might have reduced the incidence of malaria, acute respiratory infections, and diarrhea.

Animal-related factors associated with moderate-to-severe diarrhea in children younger than five years in western Kenya: A matched case-control study. PLoS NTDs, August 4, 2017.

Recent WASH research – August 3, 2017

Report from the IMPRESS Workshop: ‘Incontinence Needs in LMICs’, July 30, 2017

‘Unfit for human consumption’: a study of the contamination of formula milk fed to young children in East Java, Indonesia. TMIH, July 3017. (ABSTRACT/ORDER) The high levels of contamination found highlight that bottles are an important fecal-oral exposure pathway resulting from poor hygiene practices during bottle preparation.

Sanitation practices and perceptions in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya: Comparing the status quo with a novel service-based approach. PLoS One, July 2017. OPEN ACCESS


Behaviour change intervention to improve shared toilet maintenance and cleanliness in urban slums of Dhaka: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. TMIH, August 2017. (ABSTRACT/ORDER) In one of few efforts to promote shared toilet cleanliness, intervention compounds were significantly more likely to have cleaner toilets after six months. Future research might explore how residents can self-finance toilet maintenance, or employ mass media to reduce per-capita costs of behaviour change.

If I do not have enough water, then how could I bring additional water for toilet cleaning?! Addressing water scarcity to promote hygienic use of shared toilets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. TMIH, early view 2017. (ABSTRACT/ORDER)

Household sanitation is associated with lower risk of bacterial and protozoal enteric infections, but not viral infections and diarrhoea, in a cohort study in a low-income urban neighbourhood in Vellore, India. TMIH, early view, 2017. OPEN ACCESS

Improving the built environment in urban areas to control Aedes aegypti-borne diseases. WHO Bulletin, August 2017. OPEN ACCESS

Household and Individual Risk Factors for Cholera among Cholera Vaccine Recipients in Rural Haiti. AJTMH, August 2017. OPEN ACCESS

Identifying Potential Sources of Exposure Along the Child Feces Management Pathway: A Cross-Sectional Study Among Urban Slums in Odisha, India. AJTMH, early view. OPEN ACCESS

Optimizing Household Chlorination Marketing Strategies: A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effect of Price and Promotion on Adoption in Haiti. AJTMH, July 2017. ABSTRACT/ORDER



Recent WASH research – July 31, 2017

Open Access

Water works: how a simple technology in Dhaka is changing the way people get clean water. Water Blog, July 27. Amy Pickering of Tufts University discusses a novel treatment product that automatically dispenses small amounts of chlorine to create safe drinking water.

Identifying Potential Sources of Exposure Along the Child Feces Management Pathway: A Cross-Sectional Study Among Urban Slums in Odisha, India. AJTMH, July 24, 2017. While proper disposal of child feces in an improved latrine still represents a major challenge, control of the risks presented requires attention to the full range of exposures associated to the management of child feces, and not simply the place of disposal.

Beyond menstrual hygiene: addressing vaginal bleeding throughout the life course in low and middle income countries. BMJ Global Health, June 2017. This paper aims to highlight the key vaginal bleeding experiences throughout a woman’s life course and the intersection of these bleeding experiences with their access to adequate water and sanitation facilities, information and education sources, and supplies.

Differences in Child Health across Rural, Urban, and Slum Areas: Evidence from India. Claus C Pörtner, June 2017. We estimate that slum conditions—which the survey does not adequately capture, such as overcrowding and open sewers—are associated with 20–37% of slum children’s stunting risk.

Multi-Method Approach to identify Community Practices for Sanitation Systems. University of Colorado Boulder, June 2017. This paper compares the use of three methods—semistructured interviews, photovoice, and focus groups—to identify community priorities for sanitation.


Evaluating the effectiveness of a community-based hygiene promotion program in a rural Salvadoran setting. Global Health Promotion, July 27.

Use of Serologic Responses against Enteropathogens to Assess the Impact of a Point-of-Use Water Filter: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Western Province, Rwanda. AJTMH, July 24.

Working with complexity: a participatory systems-based process for planning and evaluating rural water, sanitation and hygiene services. Jnl WASH for Dev, July 24.

In the News

You Probably Don’t Want To Know About Haiti’s Sewage Problems. NPR Goats and Soda, July 2017

SOAPEN | This soap crayon can help prevent 1.5 million child deaths each year. July 27, 2017.

WASH articles from Environment & Urbanization

IIED’s Environment and Urbanization is a key journal for urban WASH studies. Below are links to the abstracts for the latest WASH-related articles.


Health and water quality benefits of alternative sewerage systems in Metro Manila, Philippines.
This paper presents results of a household survey on the current sanitation and sewerage conditions in Metro Manila. The survey included a choice, measured in terms of the marginal willingness to pay (MWTP), between two alternative domestic wastewater treatment systems: 1) a sewerage system connecting individual households to a treatment plant through sewer lines; and 2) a combined drainage–sewerage system in which wastewater effluent flows with rainwater through flood canals and is intercepted for treatment only at a certain point in the waterway. With the second, the health improvement effect may be limited, but the cost can be significantly lower. The finding in favour of the combined drainage–sewerage system lends some support to this new approach in municipal wastewater treatment, which some other increasingly congested metropolises in Asian countries are likewise adopting, as an alternative to the more costly individual household sewer connections.

Bathing without water, and other stories of everyday hygiene practices and risk perception in urban low-income areas: the case of Lilongwe, Malawi.
Hygiene plays a key role in tipping the balance towards reduction of diarrhoeal and other infectious diseases. Yet it has often been overlooked, positioned as a “supporting rider” of water supply and sanitation services, or narrowly understood as handwashing. By focusing on handwashing infrastructure as proposed for the monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, development actors might miss the opportunity of capturing hygiene practices that are socially embedded and can act as a catalyst for change and risk reduction. We develop this argument by presenting an in-depth examination of hygiene practices in a low-income neighbourhood of Lilongwe, Malawi. Despite the high poverty levels and the constant water shortages in the area, a number of water-intensive hygiene practices are consistently carried out, proving that hygiene is central to residents’ everyday lives. Development projects should start by identifying these practices and by reflecting on the extent that these already work or can be made to work for reducing health-related risks.

Beyond the networked city: situated practices of citizenship and grassroots agency in water infrastructure provision in the Chamazi settlement, Dar es Salaam.
This paper problematizes the liberal ideal of citizenship that, it is argued, limits active participation of poor communities in decision-making around basic urban infrastructure services and enjoyment of their citizenship rights. In place of liberal citizenship, the paper argues in favour of newly emerging forms of citizenship within participatory spheres that enhance access of the poor to urban services through direct participation aimed at socially equitable outcomes. Using the case of the Chamazi community water infrastructure initiative in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this paper demonstrates that community grassroots agency is capable of instigating institutional changes and brokering power in seeking social justice in infrastructure provision.
An assessment of the evolution of Kenya’s solid waste management policies and their implementation in Nairobi and Mombasa: analysis of policies and practices.
This paper provides a summary of the priorities and strategies stipulated by the major solid waste management (SWM) policies in Kenya. It also provides a brief assessment of their implementation in Nairobi and Mombasa, drawing on data from a 2016 community-based study. We found that SWM policies have evolved to specificity in terms of focus, functions and scope. There was a shift from criminalizing solid waste action or inaction to promoting good practices; from generic acts to specific ones; and from centralized mandates to more decentralized responsibilities. However, SWM remains a critical concern and a major challenge in Nairobi and Mombasa as a result of weak institutional structures and capacity, weak enforcement of regulatory frameworks, and the control of the sector by criminal cartels.

Recent WASH research – July 20, 2017


Assessment of Fecal Exposure Pathways in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods in Accra, Ghana: Rationale, Design, Methods, and Key Findings of the SaniPath Study. AJTMH, July 17, 2017.
The study results highlight widespread and often high levels of fecal contamination in the public and private domains and food supply. The dominant fecal exposure pathway for young children in the household was through consumption of uncooked produce. The SaniPath Study provides critical information on exposure to fecal contamination in low-income, urban environments and ultimately can inform investments and policies to reduce these public health risks.

Women still carry most of the world’s water. The Conversation, July 16, 2017.
In this article, Bethany Caruso of Emory University discusses her research in India, Bolivia and Kenya on the water and sanitation challenges that women and girls confront and how these experiences influence their lives.

Decision-making on shared sanitation in the informal settlements of Kisumu, Kenya. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, July 13, 2017.
Using a grounded theory approach, landlords and tenants were interviewed to identify sanitation decisions, individuals involved in decision-making and factors influencing decision-making. The results indicate that the main sanitation decisions are on investment, emptying, repair and cleaning. Sanitation interventions in informal settlements should thus, target landlords and tenants, with investment efforts being directed at landlords and maintenance efforts at tenants.


The effect of young children’s faeces disposal practices on child growth: Evidence from 34 countries. TMIH, July 16, 2017.
Improved child faeces disposal practices could achieve greater reductions in child undernutrition than improving toilet access alone. Additionally, the common classification of child faeces disposal as ‘safe’ regardless of the type of toilet used for disposal may underestimate the benefits of disposal in an improved toilet and overestimate the benefits of disposal in an unimproved toilet.

Open defecation explains differences in nutritional status between Bengali and tribal children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Ethnicity & Health, July 1, 2017.
We describe differences in linear growth as measured by height-for-age z-score (HAZ) between children from Bengali and tribal populations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and examine factors associated with HAZ in both groups. Different responses among Bengali and tribal children to village-level open defecation are an explanatory factor for the difference in HAZ between Bengali and tribal populations. Open defecation may also act a proxy for unmeasured factors such as household environmental conditions and food hygiene.

Water Currents issues – USAID Water Team

Water Currents is a biweekly compilation of recent research on a specific WASH topic. watercurrentsPlease send us an email if you have suggestions for Water Currents topics or comments on how to make Water Currents more useful to you.