Inadequate disposal of children’s faeces is often cited as the cause for persistent open defecation (OD) in otherwise open defecation free (ODF) communities – either through young children themselves not using latrines, or through caregivers disposing of infant faeces unhygienically.
Targeted and evidence-based behaviour change communication (BCC) activities are required to change perceptions and practice but few examples of specific strategies or approaches to tackle improper disposal of children’s faeces exist.
In many cases, child faeces may not have been considered in the original ODF certification, but in recent years has been recognised as an important element to achieving an ODF clean environment. ‘BabyWASH’ programmes focus on pregnant women, babies and children under two years and their parents.
They aim to integrate WASH into maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), early childhood development (ECD) and nutrition to improve child health outcomes during the first 1,000 days of life.
Strategies aim at identifying baby-specific exposure routes, such as placing of hands directly into mouths and touching dirty floors or toys, walking bare foot in faeces (animal or human) or contaminated soil, as well as more direct routes such as drinking contaminated water and food. Ensuring safe disposal of faeces is critical in reducing the pathogenic bacteria in the contaminated environments babies and children are exposed to.