Measuring the safety of excreta disposal behavior in India with the new Safe San Index: reliability, validity and utility

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Aug 15;11(8):8319-46. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110808319.


Methods to assess household excreta disposal practices are critical for informing public health outcomes of efforts to improve sanitation in developing countries. We present a new metric, the Safe San Index (SSI), to quantify the hygienic safety of a household's defecation and human feces disposal practices in India, where behavioral outcomes from on-going public expenditures to construct household sanitation facilities and eliminate open defecation are poorly measured. We define hygienic safety of feces disposal as capture in a hygienic sanitation facility. The SSI consists of 15 self-report items and two sub-scales, Latrine Use Frequency and Seven-Day Open Defecation Rate. Households are scored on a standardized scale from 0 (no defecation safely captured) to 100 (all defecation safely captured). We present results of a pilot study in Odisha, India to apply the Index to assess excreta disposal behaviors among rural households and evaluate the reliability and validity of the Index for estimating the rate of correct and consistent sanitation facility usage of household with an improved latrine.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Defecation
  • Feces
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Refuse Disposal / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rural Population
  • Sanitation / methods*
  • Solid Waste / analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Solid Waste