Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maya Trotz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roberta Baer, Ph.D.


Sustainable Development Engineering, Millennium Development Goals, Sanitation and Hygiene Behavior Change, Sanitation Marketing, Sub-Saharan Africa


In recent years, much focus has been put on the sustainability of water and sanitation development projects. Experts in this field have found that many of the projects of the past have failed to achieve sustainability because of a lack of demand for water and sanitation interventions at a grassroots level. For years projects looked to create this demand through various subsidy schemes, with the "software" of behavior change and education taking a backseat to the "hardware" of infrastructure provision. Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a fairly new way of looking at the issues of increasing basic sanitation coverage, promoting good hygiene practices, and facilitating the change in behaviors that is necessary for a level of basic sanitation coverage to be sustained for any significant length of time. CLTS looks to get people to come to the realization that open defecation is dangerous, and that they have to power to stop this practice.

The purpose of this research study was to assess the water, sanitation, and hygiene situation on the ground in villages that through CLTS have achieved open defecation free (ODF) status in the Mopti region of Mali, West Africa. This assessment was done through a willingness-to-pay study, that showed how important sanitation infrastructure was in the daily lives of villagers in this region of Mali. This research study also examines any possible correlations between certain socioeconomic data and willingness-to-pay. A questionnaire was developed and completed with 95 household heads spread across 6 of the 21 ODF villages in the region.

The results of this research study show that the behavior change brought about by CLTS was sustained. Every household in the study had at least one latrine (total latrines = 186), or had access to a neighbor's latrine because theirs had recently collapsed. Of these latrines 82.3% were reported as meeting the Malian nation government requirements of basic sanitation. 89.3% of the observed latrines were built by the participant families themselves using predominately materials that could be found in or harvested from the local environment (e.g., mud, rocks, sticks). Fifty-three percent of the latrines were built completely free of cost, and of the 88 latrines that were paid for in part or in whole the average cost was about US $13.00. The majority of the participants (64.2%) in the research study reported making improvements and maintaining their latrines, clearly showing the importance of sanitation infrastructure in the 6 study villages. The average cost of this maintenance was about US $1.50.

Alongside of willingness-to-pay data, more qualitative data were collected on the relative importance of sanitation infrastructure in the daily lives of people in ODF villages in Mopti. This study found that on average throughout the 6 study villages, about 13% of discretionary funds are saved for or spent on maintenance and improvements to sanitation infrastructure on a monthly basis. When sanitation infrastructure investments were compared with other infrastructure and livelihood investments, on the average it was ranked 7th out of the possible 10. These data seem to indicate that future investment in sanitation infrastructure was not a high priority for the participants. This could be stem from the fact that many of the participants had not directly experienced the need for continued investments, because their original latrines were still functional.

The willingness-to-pay regression analysis produced very few statistically valid results. Only a few of the correlations found between willingness-to-pay data and socioeconomic characteristics of the sample were found to be statistically valid. For example, the correlation coefficient between willingness-to-pay for pit maintenance, including emptying when full or covering the pit with top soil, digging a new one, and reconstruction, and education level of the participants was about 1.2 and was statistically valid with a t-statistic of about 2.2. Indicating that the more educated a participant was, the more they would be willing to pay for pit maintenance. None of the overall regressions explained enough of the variability in willingness-to-pay data to be considered statistically valid. Regressions for two scenarios, constructing a cement slab as an improvement to an existing latrine and sealing/lining the pit on an existing latrine with cement, explained 10.3% and 10.4% of the variability in willingness-to-pay data respectively. However, this did not meet the minimum criteria of 15%. While the willingness-to-pay data would have been useful to study partners that are piloting a Sanitation Marketing program in Mali, the main research objective of assessing the CLTS intervention was still met.