Trop Med Int’l Health, July 2011
Patterns and determinants of communal latrine usage in urban poverty pockets in Bhopal, India
A. Biran1, et al.
Objectives To explore and explain patterns of use of communal latrine facilities in urban poverty pockets.
Methods Six poverty pockets with communal latrine facilities representing two management models (Sulabh and municipal) were selected. Sampling was random and stratified by poverty pocket population size. A seventh, community-managed facility was also included. Data were collected by exit interviews with facility users and by interviews with residents from a randomly selected representative sample of poverty pocket households, on social, economic and demographic characteristics of households, latrine ownership, defecation practices, costs of using the facility and distance from the house to the facility. A tally of facility users was kept for 1 day at each facility. Data were analysed using logistic regression modelling to identify determinants of communal latrine usage.
Results Communal latrines differed in their facilities, conditions, management and operating characteristics, and rates of usage. Reported usage rates among non-latrine-owning households ranged from 15% to 100%. There was significant variation in wealth, occupation and household structure across the poverty pockets as well as in household latrine ownership. Households in pockets with municipal communal latrine facilities appeared poorer. Households in pockets with Sulabh-managed communal facilities were significantly more likely to own a household latrine. Determinants of communal facility usage among households without a latrine were access and convenience (distance and opening hours), facility age, cleanliness/upkeep and cost. The ratio of male to female users was 2:1 across all facilities for both adults and children.
Conclusions Provision of communal facilities reduces but does not end the problem of open defecation in poverty pockets. Women appear to be relatively poorly served by communal facilities and, cost is a barrier to use by poorer households. Results suggest improving facility convenience and access and modifying fee structures could lead to increased rates of usage. Attention to possible barriers to usage at household level associated particularly with having school-age children and with pre-school childcare needs may also be warranted.