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Research: Environmental Epidemiology

Improving Latrine Sanitation

"Improving Latrine Sanitation in Rural Nicaragua Using Novel Technologies" is a collaborative project between the Nicaragua Research Center for Aquatic Resources (CIRA/UNAN), the Committees for Potable Water and Sanitation (CAPS) and the Tufts University School of Medicine. The study aims to improve the sanitary conditions of latrines and to reduce the incidence of diseases such as diarrhea and enteric diseases in rural communities where there is no networked sewage system using latrine additives. The latrine additive will contain enzymatic substances that accelerate the decomposition of fecal material, thus eliminating bad odors and reducing the presence of disease vectors (e.g. rats, cockroaches, flies, etc).

Student Alice Tin conduced phase I of this project from May - July, 2011. At this stage, a survey instrument was developed and evaluated and digital maps were created for the pilot communities of Ciudadela San Martín, Llano Grande, La Reforma and El Hatillo. The survey gathered essential information on water sources, toilet facilities, sanitation practices and the social acceptance of using latrine additives while the maps marked important community infrastructure and delineated the hydrogeography of the study area.

The survey showed that there was high incidence of diarrheal and enteric disease present in the communities (56.4%) and respondents reported problems with odors and pests in their latrines (67.3%). The social acceptability of the proposed intervention was extremely positive (98.2%). Additionally, good relationships were built with Nicaraguan partners, which forecast a productive collaboration. Both the survey and the maps yielded insight into the background of the study communities and produced recommendation for the future direction of the study.

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