A Community Based Program Promotes Sanitation

53 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2018

See all articles by Maria Laura Alzua

Maria Laura Alzua

CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata

Habiba Djebbari

Université Laval - Département d'Économique; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Amy Pickering

Tufts University


Basic sanitation facilities are still lacking in large parts of the developing world, engendering serious environmental health risks. Interventions commonly deliver in-kind or cash subsidies to promote private toilet ownership. In this paper, we assess an intervention that provides information and behavioral incentives to encourage villagers in rural Mali to build and use basic latrines. Using an experimental research design and carefully measured indicators of use, we find a sizeable impact from this intervention: latrine ownership and use almost doubled in intervention villages, and open defecation was reduced by half.Our results partially attribute these effects to increased knowledge about cheap and locally available sanitation solutions. They are also associated with shifts in the social norm governing sanitation. Taken together, our findings, unlike previous evidence from other contexts, suggest that a progressive approach that starts with ending open defecation and targets whole communities at a time can help meet the new Sustainable Development Goal of ending open defecation.

Keywords: sanitation, behavioral change, community-based intervention, social norm

JEL Classification: Q53, Q58, D78

Suggested Citation

Alzua, Maria Laura and Djebbari, Habiba and Pickering, Amy, A Community Based Program Promotes Sanitation. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11446, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3158152

Maria Laura Alzua (Contact Author)

CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata ( email )

7 Nº 776
Buenos Aires, BA 1900

Habiba Djebbari

Université Laval - Département d'Économique ( email )

2325 Rue de l'Université
Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4 G1K 7P4

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Amy Pickering

Tufts University

Medford, MA 02155
United States

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