We are working with a Canadian non-profit and the Government of Nepal to improve public restroom sanitation practices. The lack of proper sanitation not only causes poor health practices but also creates gender asymmetrical usage, whereby women feel unsafe and often avoid using a restroom for an entire day, thereby severely limiting their own freedom to be out of home and participate in the labor market. The project centered on one key civic engagement questions: how can we nudge individuals to show empathy toward other restroom users?
By performing regression analyses on data acquired through on-the-ground work in Kathmandu, we were able to extract clear behavioral factors predicting sanitation practices. We created campaigns that leverage the power of social norms by creating a toll-free number for complaints against other individuals who are neglecting sanitation as well as specific messaging painted on the walls of public restrooms. Our interventions brought a significant increase in sanitation practices – what’s more, they serve as a sustainable model that is now being scaled in restrooms around Nepal.