Provision of improved sanitation facilities has been pointed out as one of the commonrnstrategies of preventing sanitation-related diseases such as diarrhea. However despiterngovernment efforts of improving sanitation standards latrines in rural areas of developingrncountries remain rudimental and people still practice open defecation even with thernpresence of toilets. Unless factors that influence behaviour change are well comprehendedrncommunities could continue stagnating in the sanitation ladder as a result of unacceptablerntoilets.
The study objectives were: to examine the influence of social factors cultural factorsrnand latrine status on adoption of sanitation practices in rural areas.
The study adoptedrnconvergent mixed methods research design where both qualitative and quantitative datarnwas gathered simultaneously. Quantitative data was gathered using structuredrnquestionnaires from 100 household heads selected using cluster and proportionate simplernrandom sampling techniques. Qualitative data was collected using an interview guide fromrna purposively selected focus group consisting of 9 participants. The quantitative data wasrnanalyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences SPSS version 25 which generatedrndescriptive and inferential statistics to unveil the relationship between variables. Thernfindings were organized into themes and presented in narratives. Pretesting of instrumentsrnwas conducted among 10 participants from Nkomo Location in Meru County to test theirrnvalidity
A coefficient of 0.72 was arrived at after employing the test-retest technique inrndetermining reliability of instruments. From the findings 75 of residents adoptedrntraditional pit latrines some of which had no slabs roofs had tattered walls flies and odourrnnuisances. The study established that 30 of the households practiced open defecation.rnKnowledge alone did not motivate people to stop open defecation r0.159 p0.003 butrnhad a positive relationship with adoption of improved latrines correlation coefficientrnr0.099 p0.022. Engagement of non-skilled masons facilitated construction ofrnunimproved toilets r0.455 p0.001. Location of toilets far from households had anrnimplication on women safety especially at night. Women roles such as fetching water andrncollecting firewood and male roles like rearing livestock in deserted places with no toiletsrninfluenced open defecation r0.477 p0.000. However existing traditions and beliefs onrnwitchcraft on faeces left in the open created fear of defecating in the open. Inadequaternwomen involvement in sanitation decision-making increased women stresses of accessingrnunacceptable latrines which were abandoned for open defecation. There existed religionsrnwhich associated the cause of diarrhea with demons which denoted a form of ignorance onrnsanitation realities. Results also showed a positive relationship between inadequate latrinernmaintenance and open defecation r0.175 p0.001. Lack of privacy in toilets encouragedrnlatrine abandonment r0.242 p0.015.
Owing to the presence of unimproved toilets mostly adopted in Nzaui Sub-County the studyrnconcludes that the areas sanitation status is generally poor. Lack of appreciation of the rolernof improved latrines in preventing the spread of sanitation-related diseases can hinderrnprogression in the sanitation ladder. Some members in rural areas could avoid usingrnsanitation facilities even in their presence.rnFrom the findings of this study it can be concluded that social factors such as knowledgerninfluenced adoption of sanitation practices. However knowledge alone may not triggerrnadoption of positive sanitation practices. In addition latrine construction skills location inrnrelation to toilet safety and absence of toilets within the households played a significant rolernin influencing adoption of sanitation practices in the area.rnIt can also be concluded that due to the influence of gender roles where men are the primaryrndecision makers on household sanitation matters the sanitation needs for women andrnchildren are mostly overlooked in rural areas. Inadequate women involvement in sanitationrndecision-making exacerbated women stresses of accessing unacceptable latrines which werernabandoned for open defecation. Besides it can be deduced from the findings that althoughrnmany traditions discourage improved sanitation status there exist some healthy traditions inrnrural areas that can discourage poor sanitation practices such as open defecation. The study also concluded that access to unfriendly latrines such as those that did not maintainrnthe privacy of users those that were not well maintained latrines with poor materials andrnslabs triggered a negative attitude towards the use of the available latrines