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Infant and young child feces management study

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Authors: Molly Miller-Petrie, Lindsay Voigt, Lyn McLennan, Sandy Cairncross, Marion W. Jenkins

Background: Despite evidence that children’s faeces play a major role in diarrheal disease transmission through the contamination of the household environment, relatively little priority has been given to research and interventions in this area. In Cambodia, only 20% of children’s faeces were disposed of in an improved sanitation facility according to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey. This study explores current practices and the role that enabling products may play in increasing hygienic management practices.

Methods: A household survey was conducted in 130 houses in 21 villages and two provinces in Cambodia. Four focus group discussions were conducted, two in each province. Households were restricted to those with an improved sanitation facility and at least one child under five. Results were analysed using STATA13 and explanatory variables were tested individually and using logistic regression to control for child age. Focus group results were analysed qualitatively.

Results: Main place of defecation, method of moving faeces, and main place of disposal differed depending on child age, with children under two least likely to have their faeces disposed of hygienically. Overall, 62.7% of households reported using a hygienic main disposal site while 35.7% reported doing so consistently. Factors associated with hygienic disposal included the number of years a household had owned a latrine, the age of the caregiver, the consistency of adult latrine use, and the presence of tools for child faeces management in the latrine.

Conclusions: The results demonstrate a need for interventions targeting the hygienic management of faeces of children under five in Cambodia, and particularly for children under two. The technologies most likely to facilitate hygienic disposal for these age ranges include reusable diapers, potties, and potentially latrine seats. Design features should ensure child safety, time-savings, cost-savings, ease of disposal, and ease of cleaning. Product marketing will also need to address hygiene behaviours related to child cleaning and caretaker hand washing to ensure reduction of disease transmission.