What happens when the playground is also the potty? (Management of Feces of Children under 5) - Child feces disposal practices
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TOPIC: What happens when the playground is also the potty? (Management of Feces of Children under 5) - Child feces disposal practices

What happens when the playground is also the potty? (Management of Feces of Children under 5) - Child feces disposal practices 27 Feb 2014 07:37 #7526

  • F H Mughal
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A very recent paper by Fiona Majorin et al. (Majorin F, Freeman MC, Barnard S, Routray P, Boisson S, et al. (2014) Child Feces Disposal Practices in Rural Orissa: A Cross Sectional Study. PLoS ONE 9(2): e89551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089551), gives an interesting overview and discussion on child feces disposal in Orissa, India.

The paper notes that in many low-income settings, nappies (i.e. diapers or cloth) and potties are rarely available or used, making the hygienic collection of young children's feces difficult; if collected, such feces are often disposed of in a manner that does not prevent further exposure to household members or contamination of water sources.

This is almost a similar situation that we have here in the rural areas of Sindh province of Pakistan. Since, it is the job of rural women to clean the child, they do so in most irresponsible manner. A woman would hold infant on her feet, such that the feet act as a channel. The feces are poorly dispersed with few mugs of water. Children, on the other hand, defecate in open channels (if they exist), or just outside the house.

This is serious, when read in conjunction with what the paper says: “the unsanitary disposal of child feces may present a greater health risk than that of adults. First, young children represent the highest incidence of enteric infections, and their feces are most likely to contain agents. Second, young children tend to defecate in areas where susceptible children could be exposed. Third, young children who are also most at risk of mortality and the serious sequelae associated with enteric infection are most likely to be exposed to these ambient agents due to the time they spend on the ground, their tendency to put fingers and fomites in their mouths, and common behaviors such as geophagia.”

The authors, and the forum colleagues, would be surprised to know that, in the rural areas here, the rural women still consider infants’ feces as harmless, and consequently, do not wash their hands with soap, after cleaning the infants.

There is one important conclusion in the paper. The paper says: “the Total Sanitation Campaign has not led to high levels of safe disposal of child feces.” Total Sanitation Campaign, now known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, is India’s largest rural sanitation campaign. It is “a subsidy-based approach that seeks to create demand and provide subsidies to below the poverty line households towards construction of individual household latrines.”

This is in line with what I have stated in the forum’s another post, that a country should use a sanitation strategy that delivers in that particular settings; and, this may, or may not be, a flagship program.

The paper is attached. Enjoy!

F H Mughal
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F H Mughal (Mr.)
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What happens when the playground is also the potty? (Management of Feces of Children under 5) 16 Jul 2015 19:27 #14220

  • emilype
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Do you know of any programs to improve feces disposal of children under five that we might have missed when creating these profiles outlining the current practices of caregivers?


Should you want more of the background on the profiles, here it is:

Although the impact of poor sanitation and hygiene is often measured by the effects on children, most sanitation and hygiene interventions target adults. Safe disposal of children’s feces is as essential as the safe disposal of adults’ feces and yet, in general, sanitation for children has been a neglected area of research. Significant knowledge gaps must be filled before comprehensive, practical, evidence based policy and program guidance can be made available.

To improve the evidence base, the Global Water Practice’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) partnered to develop profiles outlining the current child feces disposal practices of caregivers and existing interventions to improve those practices.

The analysis found that in most countries investigated, over 50 percent of households with children under age three reported that the feces of their children were unsafely disposed of. Even among households with improved toilets or latrines, some unsafe child feces disposal behavior was reported by caregivers. In almost every country analyzed, the feces of children under age three are less likely to be safely disposed of than those of the general population. Furthermore, the burden of child feces management is usually left to women.

· Read a new blog: “What Happens When the Playground Is Also the Potty?
· See the individual country profiles at Ensuring Safe Sanitation for Children
· Check out the summary brief compiling the country level profile practices: Management of Child Feces: Current Disposal Practices
Last Edit: 16 Jul 2015 19:28 by emilype. Reason: hyperlink in wrong place
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