A lack of sanitation infrastructure is a major contributor to the global burden of diarrheal disease, particularly in low-income countries. Access to basic sanitation was identified as part of the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, current definitions of "basic" sanitation infrastructure exclude community or shared sanitation, due to concerns around safety, equity, and cleanliness. The purpose of this study was to measure and compare bacterial contamination on community and household latrine surfaces in Kathmandu, Nepal. One hundred and nineteen swab samples were collected from two community and five household latrines sites. Community latrine samples were taken before and after daily cleaning, while household samples were collected at midday, to reflect normal conditions. Concentrations of total coliforms and Escherichia coli were measured using membrane filtration methods. Results found almost no differences between bacterial contamination on latrine surfaces in community and household latrines, with the exception of latrine slabs/seats that were more contaminated in the community latrines under dirty conditions. The study also identified surfaces with higher levels of contamination. Findings demonstrated that well-maintained community latrines may be as clean, or cleaner, than household latrines and support the use of community latrines for improving access to sanitation infrastructure in a low-income country setting.
Keywords: WASH; community sanitation; global health.