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Quantifying factors associated with open defecation in Ghana

Science | Researchers
Research Spotlight: Quantifying factors associated with open defecation in Ghana

The first comprehensive quantitative study of open defecation in Ghana identifies six predictors for the practice and suggests public education and financing programs to improve sanitation.

An estimated 842,000 people die each year from sanitation-related diseases, such as diarrhea and cholera. In Ghana and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a significant contributor to this problem is the practice of open defecation.

A team led by Dr. Enoch Akwasi Kosoe and their colleagues at the University of Development Studies in Ghana conducted a comprehensive quantitative examination of the factors associated with open defecation in the Wa Municipality. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, employed a mixed-method approach involving questionnaires, observation, and interviews. The data were then analyzed using a mixed logit model. The team found that 49.8% of households had no form of toilet facility, and so either used communal/public toilets or practiced open defecation. The researchers identified six predictors of open defecation, namely ownership of a toilet facility, education, household size, occupation, income, and traditional norms and beliefs.

While 84% of the respondents without a home toilet had a good understanding of the health risks associated with open defecation, constructing a facility was often not a priority, with 94% of the participants mentioning financial factors. The authors concluded that in addition to boosting public education, the authorities should consider promoting credit financing to help fund the construction of home toilets.

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This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.

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