The impact of an operation and management intervention on toilet usability in schools in the Philippines: A cluster randomised controlled trial

H. Buxton, J. Dimaisip-Nabuab, D. Duijster, B. Monse, Habib Benzian, R. Dreibelbis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Access to usable water, sanitation and hygiene provision in schools is included within indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals. Progress towards these indicators is dependent on developing an understanding of which intervention components are most effective to operate and maintain usable services. This study aimed to determine the impact of a school toilet operation and management intervention in the Philippines on toilet usability and student and teacher satisfaction, adjusted for clustering at school level. Methods: In a non-blinded cluster randomised controlled trial, we compared improvements in usability and cleanliness of school toilets among those schools receiving a low-cost, replicable intervention. Toilet usability was measured based on Sustainable Development Goal indicators related to school sanitation defined by the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Intervention schools received consumables, support kits, and structured tools designed to facilitate operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities. The primary outcome, toilet usability and cleanliness, was compared through a difference-in-difference analysis of toilet usability. Secondary outcomes of student and teacher satisfaction were measured through a survey at endline. All outcomes were adjusted for clustering at school level.
Results: 20 eligible schools in the Batangas region of the Philippines were randomly selected and allocated to either control or intervention group. We found that non-classroom toilets were 48% more likely to meet quality benchmarks in intervention schools, but this was not statistically significant. When including in-classroom toilets in the analysis, there were no significant differences in toilet usability - defined as accessible, functional, private and of high quality - between intervention and control schools. When stratified by toilet location, children in the intervention group clusters expressed a minor, but statistically significant increase in overall satisfaction with sanitation facilities (p = 0.035).
Conclusion: Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in schools focusing on operation and maintenance showed potential to improve toilet usability, but universal achievement of SDG targets may require additional efforts addressing toilet infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1680
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of an operation and management intervention on toilet usability in schools in the Philippines: A cluster randomised controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this