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Open Access Research article

A qualitative comparative analysis of well-managed school sanitation in Bangladesh

Christie Chatterley1*, Amy Javernick-Will1, Karl G Linden1, Kawser Alam2, Laure Bottinelli2 and Mohini Venkatesh3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

2 School Health and Nutrition Department, Save the Children, Dhaka, Bangladesh

3 Department of Education and Child Development, Save the Children, Washington, USA

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:6  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-6

Published: 8 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Continued management of sanitation and hygiene services, post-intervention, is a global challenge, particularly in the school-setting. This situation threatens anticipated impacts of school sanitation and hygiene investments. To improve programming and policies, and increase the effectiveness of limited development resources, we seek to understand how and why some schools have well-managed sanitation post-intervention, while others do not.

Methods

Based on in-depth qualitative data from 16 case schools in Meherpur, Bangladesh, we employ fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to identify the necessary and sufficient conditions, or combinations of conditions (referred to as pathways), that lead to either well-managed or poorly managed school sanitation. We include posited sustainability determinants from the literature and factors that emerged from the cases themselves in the analysis.

Results

We identified three distinct pathways sufficient to support well-managed services, providing multiple options for how well-managed school sanitation could be encouraged. Two of these are applicable to both government and non-government schools: (1) quality construction, financial community support and a champion; and (2) quality construction, financial government support, a maintenance plan and school management committee involvement. On-going financial support for operations and maintenance was identified as a necessary condition for continued service management, which was absent from many schools with poorly managed services. However, financial support was insufficient alone and other conditions are needed in conjunction, including quality construction and incentivizing conditions, such as school management committee involvement in sanitation specifically, a sanitation champion, and/or one teacher clearly responsible for toilet maintenance. Surprisingly, the number of students per toilet (ranging from 18–95 students) and toilet age (ranging from 8–32 months) had no significant effect on sanitation conditions.

Conclusions

Findings corroborate those from a similar study in Belize, and comparison suggests the need for financial community support and the possibly tenuous reliance on local champions in the absence of adequate government support for operations and maintenance. Sub-determinants to the necessary conditions are also discussed which have implications for school sanitation in Bangladesh and may have broader relevance for other low-income countries though further research is needed.

Keywords:
School sanitation; Handwashing; Qualitative comparative analysis; Hygiene; Sustainability; Bangladesh; Asia