Scaling Up a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program in Rural Bangladesh: The Role of Program Implementation

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Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate whether the quality of implementation of a water, sanitation, and hygiene program called SHEWA-B and delivered by UNICEF to 20 million people in rural Bangladesh was associated with health behaviors and sanitation infrastructure access.

Methods

We surveyed 33 027 households targeted by SHEWA-B and 1110 SHEWA-B hygiene promoters in 2011 and 2012. We developed an implementation quality index and compared the probability of health behaviors and sanitation infrastructure access in counterfactual scenarios over the range of implementation quality.

Results

Forty-seven percent of households (n = 14 622) had met a SHEWA-B hygiene promoter, and 47% of hygiene promoters (n = 527) could recall all key program messages. The frequency of hygiene promoter visits was not associated with improved outcomes. Higher implementation quality was not associated with better health behaviors or infrastructure access. Outcomes differed by only 1% to 3% in scenarios in which all clusters received low versus high implementation quality.

Conclusions

SHEWA-B did not meet UNICEF's ideal implementation quality in any area. Improved implementation quality would have resulted in marginal changes in health behaviors or infrastructure access. This suggests that SHEWA-B's design was suboptimal for improving these outcomes.

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