Translating pathogen knowledge to practice for sanitation decision-making

Innocent K. Tumwebaze, Joan B. Rose, Nynke Hofstra, Matthew E. Verbyla, Isaac Musaazi, Daniel A. Okaali, Rose C. Kaggwa, Irene Nansubuga, Heather M. Murphy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Sanitation planners make complex decisions in the delivery of sanitation services to achieve health outcomes. We present findings from a stakeholder engagement workshop held in Kampala, Uganda, to educate, interact with, and solicit feedback from participants on how the relevant scientific literature on pathogens can be made more accessible to practitioners to support decision-making. We targeted Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practitioners involved in different levels of service delivery. Practitioners revealed that different sanitation planning tools are used to inform decision-making; however, most of these tools are not user-friendly or adapted to meet their needs. Most stakeholders (68%) expressed familiarity with pathogens, yet less than half (46%) understood that fecal coliforms were bacteria and used as indicators for fecal pollution. A number of stakeholders were unaware that fecal indicator bacteria do not behave and persist the same as helminths, protozoa, or viruses, making fecal indicator bacteria inadequate for assessing pathogen reductions for all pathogen groups. This suggests a need for awareness and capacity development around pathogens found in excreta. The findings underscore the importance to engage stakeholders in the development of support tools for sanitation planning and highlighted broader opportunities to bridge science with practice in the WASH sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-909
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Water and Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Decision-making
  • Knowledge translation
  • Pathogens
  • Sanitation
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Tools


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