Technological innovations in sanitation are poised to address the great need for sanitation improvements in low-income countries. Worldwide, more than 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities. Innovative waste treatment and sanitation technologies aim to incorporate user-centered findings into technology engineering and design. Without a focus on users, even the most innovative technology solutions can encounter significant barriers to adoption. Drawing on a household survey conducted in urban slum communities of Ahmedabad, India, this research brief identifies toilet and sanitation preferences, amenities, and attributes that might promote adoption of improved sanitation technologies among potential user populations. This work uses supplemental insights gained from focus groups and findings from the literature. Based on our research, we offer specific guidance for engineering and design of sanitation products and technologies.
By Laura T. R. Morrison, Anushah Hossain, Myles Elledge, Brian Stoner, Jeffrey Piascik.
June 2018 Open Access Peer Reviewed
- Focus group discussions and survey data identified several strongly preferred features among respondents, many of which align with prioritized attributes (e.g., privacy, hygiene) of sanitation facilities.
- Both men and women had a strong preference for gender-segregated stalls as a means for enhancing privacy and safety.
- Men and women widely and equally favored urinals placed outside the toilet cabin. Men felt that urinals increase convenience, while women cited increased privacy and cleanliness inside the cabin when male traffic through the toilet was reduced. Men favored a partial closure around the urinal for privacy.
- Men and women equally favored features that address increased vulnerability of women and girls during menstruation, such as options for private disposal and menstrual product procurement.
- Availability of water for sanitation and other uses was an important factor in demand-driven facility use.
- Sinks for hand-washing and cleaning were highly valued and further increased in value when soap was provided.
- Survey respondents indicated an interest in “modern” features, such as automatic flushing, mobile-charging, or in-stall radios. These features represent areas for further research on user demand and influence on technology adoption.
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