Volume 96, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Latrines are the most basic form of improved sanitation and are a common public health intervention. Understanding motivations for building and using latrines can help develop effective, sustainable latrine promotion programs. We conducted a mixed-methods study of latrine use in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. We held 15 focus group discussions and surveyed 278 households in five communities. We used the Integrated Behavioral Model for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene interventions to guide our qualitative analysis. Seventy-one percent of households had a latrine, but coverage varied greatly across communities. Higher household income was not associated with latrine use (odds ratio [OR] = 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.5, 7.7); similarly, cost and availability of materials were not discussed as barriers to latrine use in the focus groups. Male-headed households were more likely to use latrines than households with female heads (OR = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.6, 7.7), and households with children in school were more likely to use latrines than households without children in school (OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.6, 3.3). These quantitative findings were confirmed in focus groups, where participants discussed how children relay health messages from school. Participants discussed how women prefer not to use latrines, often finding them strange or even scary. These findings are useful for public health implementation; they imply that community-level drivers are important predictors of household latrine use and that cost is not a significant barrier. These findings confirm that school-aged children may be effective conduits of health messages and suggest that latrines can be better marketed and designed for women.


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  • Received : 30 Jun 2016
  • Accepted : 08 Sep 2016
  • Published online : 11 Jan 2017

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