Norms, Knowledge and Usage

Frontiers of Sanitation 7
January 2016

Toilet quality, maintenance and accessibility can be factors in partial usage, but recent evidence points to mindsets, social norms and cultural preferences as also playing a significant role.

The partial or total non-use of toilets, with some or all members of a household defecating in the open, is a growing concern. Although all households may have a toilet, communities cannot remain open defecation free (ODF) unless they are always used by everyone. This is not just an issue of maintenance and accessibility but also of social norms, mindsets, and cultural preferences. The problem is widespread but most evident in India.

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS asks how serious the problem is, why it occurs, what can be done about it, and what more needs to be known. It is an attempt to summarise current knowledge as a first step in exploring and learning about this growing obstacle to attaining and sustaining ODF status in some parts of the world.

Additional details

PublisherInstitute of Development Studies
RegionSouth Asia
ThemesBehaviour change, Challenging contexts, Climbing the sanitation ladder, Social norms, Sustainability and safely managed sanitation
ApproachesCommunity-led approaches

Chambers, R. and Myers, J. (2016) ‘Norms, Knowledge and Usage’, Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 7, Brighton: IDS.


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