In Kenya’s Kitui County, 46% of children under 5 years are stunted. Sanitation and nutrition programmes have sought to reduce child undernutrition, though they are typically implemented separately. We evaluate the effectiveness of an integrated sanitation and nutrition (SanNut) intervention in improving caregiver sanitation and nutrition knowledge and behaviours.
We conducted a cluster-randomised controlled trial to evaluate the impact of the SanNut intervention on caregiver knowledge, sanitary and hygiene practices, sanitation outcomes and nutrition outcomes. The evaluation included caregivers of children under 5 years across 604 villages in Kitui County. 309 treatment villages were randomly assigned to receive both the SanNut intervention and the standard Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) intervention, while 295 control villages only received the CLTS intervention. 8 households with children under 5 years were randomly selected from each evaluation village to participate in the endline survey, for a total of 4322 households.
SanNut led to modest improvements in sanitary knowledge and practices emphasised by the programme. Caregivers in treatment villages were 3.3 pp (+32%) more likely to mention lack of handwashing after handling child faeces as a potential cause of diarrhoea, and 4.9 pp (+7.8%) more likely to report safe disposal of child faeces than caregivers in control villages. Treatment households were 1.9 pp (+79%) more likely to have a stocked handwashing station and 2.9 pp (-16%) less likely to report incidences of child diarrhoea. However, SanNut appears to have had no impact on nutritional practices, such as breastfeeding, vitamin A supplementation or deworming. Non-child outcomes traditionally associated with CLTS, including latrine use and homestead sanitary conditions, were similar in treatment and control groups.
Child-focused messaging can potentially be integrated into CLTS programming, though this integration was more successful for topics closer to CLTS objectives (sanitation practices, including limiting faecal contamination and handwashing) than for more disparate topics (nutritional practices).
Source: British Medical Journal