Volume 99, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Malnourished children in low-income contexts usually suffer from environmental enteric dysfunction, which is damage to the intestines caused by chronic exposure to bacterial pathogens from feces hypothesized to contribute to stunting. Many intervention studies are piloting “Baby water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)” to help rural farming families reduce infant and young children’s (IYC’s) exposure to human and free-range livestock feces. One proposed Baby WASH intervention is a play-yard, which consists of a baby-proofed structure (i.e., playpen) that caregivers can place IYC into while doing chores around the household yard. This article describes the pilot development and assessment of a community-built Baby WASH play-yard and a plastic play-yard intervention with 21 caregivers of 6- to 24-month-old IYC in rural Zambia. A modified Trials of Improved Practices approach was used to conduct three visits in each household: an introductory visit during which play-yard use was explained, a second visit consisting of a semi-structured interview and a session of behavioral counseling, and a final visit which included a 2-hour observation of play-yard use. The second and final visits also included 24-hour recalls, and all three visits included spot observations of play-yard use. Reports from caregivers suggest that the community-built play-yard protected IYC from ingesting soil and livestock feces. Barriers to intervention use included caregivers’ WASH beliefs and practices, community reactions, and play-yard maintenance. More work is needed to examine the role of women’s time use in their home environment, community reactions to the intervention, and the biological efficacy to reduce microbial ingestion.


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  • Received : 06 Oct 2017
  • Accepted : 02 Apr 2018
  • Published online : 04 Jun 2018

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