Community Perceptions of a Multilevel Sanitation Behavior Change Intervention in Rural Odisha, India

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 22;17(12):4472. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17124472.


While latrine coverage is increasing in India, not all household members use their latrines. Cost-effective, culturally appropriate, and theory-informed behavior change interventions are necessary to encourage sustained latrine use by all household members. We qualitatively examined community perceptions of sanitation interventions broadly, along with specific impressions and spillover of community-level activities of the Sundara Grama latrine use behavior change intervention in rural Odisha, India. We conducted sixteen sex-segregated focus group discussions (n = 152) in three intervention and three nonintervention villages and thematically analyzed the data. We found Sundara Grama was well-received by community members and considered educative, but perceptions of impact on latrine use were mixed and varied by activity. Intervention recruitment challenges prevented some, such as women and households belonging to lower castes, from attending activities. Spillover occurred in one of two nonintervention villages, potentially due to positive relations within and between the nonintervention village and nearby intervention village. Community-level sanitation initiatives can be hindered by community divisions, prioritization of household sanitation over community cleanliness, and perceptions of latrine use as a household and individual issue, rather than common good. Community-centered sanitation interventions should assess underlying social divisions, norms, and perceptions of collective efficacy to adapt intervention delivery and activities.

Keywords: WASH; collective efficacy; gender; latrine use; process evaluation; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Rural Population
  • Sanitation*
  • Toilet Facilities*