Sanitation and Hygiene Policy – Stated Beliefs and Actual Practice: A Case Study in the Burera District, Rwanda, 2012.
Nelson Ekane, Madeleine Fogde, Marianne Kjellén and Stacey Noel. Stockholm Environment Institute.
In Rwanda, sanitation and hygiene are high on the government’s development agenda, and it prescribes a range of guidelines and standards for toilet technologies appropriate for different regions. This working paper presents these prescribed guidelines and standards, specifically those pertaining specifically to urine diversion dry toilets (UDDTs), as well as those on the use of treated human excreta as fertilizer, and on pit latrines (“drop and store”). It then describes how these guidelines and standards are enforced at the community level – specifically in the Rugarama sector, Burera District – and presents the prevailing sanitation and hygiene norms and practices, moving on to discuss how and why the prescribed guidelines and standards match or do not match prevailing practices. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Rwanda is carrying out a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the dostrict of Burera and three other districts in the country.
This study shows that health, hygiene, convenience, and safety aspects of sanitation in the study area remain unsatisfactory, and are not aligned with national guidelines and standards. Most of the toilets in these communities are neither properly constructed nor properly used. Reasons for the contradictions between prevailing practice and national guidelines and standards include the following: people do not place a high priority on toilets; financial constraints limit household investment in toilets; there is a lack of proper understanding of prescribed sanitation and hygiene guidelines and standards; and there are challenges in carrying out sanitary inspections. For the productive sanitation system in particular, poor understanding of how the system works was identified as the main cause of the mismatch between standards and practice. This study posits that a common understanding of prescribed guidelines and standards at all levels of society is vital to ensure health and safety, improved livelihoods, and to maintain minimum hygiene and sanitation standards.