An assessment of open defecation among residents of Thika East Sub-County, Kiambu County, Kenya
Thiga Lucy Mumbi, Cholo Wilberforce
Background: Human waste disposal is a highly sensitive, almost taboo topic across all cultures and circumventing this sensitivity has contributed to the failure of many programmes aimed at preventing the practice of open defecation (OD). Disappointingly, research shows that programmes aiming to prevent open defecation have limited success. This is because open defecation is associated with disgust that is elicited when people are closely confronted with human feces in public places and this contributes to its complex phenomenon. When communities have no access to safe human waste disposal facilities, the environment becomes a risky place where diseases are transmitted. Objectives: The main objectives of the study were to determine the extent of open defecation among residents of Thika East sub-county and to determine the perceived effects of open defecation among the residents Thika East subcounty Study Design and methods: The study employed a descriptive cross sectional design in which 20554 households and using Nassiuma (2000) formula (n = NC2/ C2 + (N - 1) e2) a sample of 223 households were selected and structured questionnaire was administered to households heads selected using systematic random sampling. Both Random and systematic sampling methods were used to get the sample size of 223 households which participated in the study. A self-made standard questionnaire, FGDs and observation check list were used as the main tools for data collection. A pilot test was conducted to enable the researcher improve on reliability of the instrument. Quantitative data was coded and keyed into the computer using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) where analysis was done using inferential and descriptive statistics like frequency counts and percentages. A Chi-square test set at 0.05 level of significance was used to test the relationship and association between some variables. However, qualitative data was put under themes consistent with research objectives. The result of data analysis was then presented in frequency tables, pie charts and bar graphs. Study Results: The study established that 23.3% of the sampled homesteads did not have latrines. This means that members of these households were either defecating in the fields, neighbor latrines or public toilets. The findings showed that among the 32 respondents with no formal education, 11(34.4%) of them were defecating in neighbors’ toilet while 8 (25%) were defecating in the field. Out of the 57 respondents with Secondary education, 54 (94.7%) had their own latrines with only 3 (5.3%) defecating in their neighbors’ latrines. This shows that respondents with no formal education were more likely to defecate in the field compared to those with primary, secondary and tertiary education. Conclusion: Open defecation was a predominant norm practiced in most of the communities and it had negative effects towards human health, water and air pollution.