Decreasing defecation in the open

A recent post discussed the importance of reducing defection in the open. But, how to increase uptake of latrine acquisition and use? An important cluster trial [1] of 107 Bangladeshi villages compared:

  1. Education
  2. Information on how to buy and install a latrine
  3. Vouchers.

The value of the voucher and the proportion of villagers offered a voucher was allowed to vary. At 13 months, the vouchers were far and away the most effective of the above three intervention types. Further, making vouchers available to some families had a positive externality encouraging others in the same village to acquire a toilet. It seems that the Veblen idea of “keeping up with the Patels” applies also to lavatories! Prime Minister Modi is committed to installing 111 million latrines in India.[2] Hopefully the findings of this important study will find their way into the emerging policy.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Guiteras R, Levinsohn J, Mobarak AM. Encouraging sanitation investment in the developing world: A cluster-randomized trial. Science. 2015; 348(6237): 903-6.
  2. Kaiser J. For toilets, money matters. Science. 2015; 328(6232): 272.

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