Household Survey on the Role of Social Norms in Defecation Practices in Aurangabad, Bihar, India
Dr. Imteyaz Ahmad,
School of Health Systems Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, V.N. Purav Marg, Deonar, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
Introduction: In the recent decade, the study of social norms has become popular as it can explain and change harmful social behaviours, such as Open Defecation (OD). Open defecation is is a threat to public health. It causes diarrheal infections. Households formed the unit of study as they constitute an essential social institution to adopt and use latrines.
Aim: To compare the social norms of the latrine user and OD practitioners of households with regard to disgust, purity and pollution, latrine and OD beliefs, and the preference for latrines that differ in cost.
Materials and Methods: The cross-sectional study was conducted among 486 participants at Aurangabad district, Bihar, India, from July 2019 to January 2020. The district is one of the worst performers in latrine adoption in the country, according to the census of India 2011, Swachh Bharat Mission 2016, and NFHS-5 2019-21 data. A pretested questionnaire prepared by Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE) was used as a tool for data collection. Data collected were entered into Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 25.0. Descriptive data analysiswas performed and represented in tabular forms. The categories of households were made on the basis of the defecation practices (latrine user and OD practitioners).
Results: The study found that social norms regarding purity and pollution were the same across the two groups. Both the groups (latrine user and OD practitioners) agreed that OD was disgusting and polluting behaviour. The two groups were coherent in the preference for latrines based on cost.
Conclusion: The social norms are evolving in the study setting. Households have recognised the relevance of latrine use in contemporary times. The gap in practice is the only difference between the two groups of households.