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Enabling Factors for Sustaining Open Defecation-Free Communities in Rural Indonesia: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programmes, like the Sanitasi Total Berbasis Masyarakat (STBM) programme of the Government of Indonesia, have played a significant role in reducing open defecation though still little is known about the sustainability of the outcomes. This study assessed the sustainability of verified Open Defecation Free (ODF) villages and explored the association between slippage occurrence and the strength of social norms through a government conducted cross-sectional data collection in rural Indonesia. It surveyed 587 households and held focus group discussions (FGDs) in six ODF villages two years after the government’s ODF verification. Overall, the slippage rate (i.e., a combination of sub-optimal use of a latrine and open defecation at respondent level) was estimated to be 14.5% (95% CI 11.6–17.3). Results of multivariate logistic regression analyses indicated that (1) weaker social norms, as measured by respondents’ perceptions around latrine ownership coverage in their community, (2) a lack of all-year round water access, and (3) wealth levels (i.e., not being in the richest quintile), were found to be significantly associated with slippage occurrence. These findings, together with qualitative analysis, concluded that CATS programmes, including a combination of demand creation, removal of perceived constraints through community support mechanisms, and continued encouragement to pursue higher levels of services with post-ODF follow-up, could stabilize social norms and help to sustain longer-term latrine usage in study communities. Further investigation and at a larger scale, would be important to strengthen these findings.

Date: 3 January 2018