Parul Agarwal
Sanitation Access in Bihar, India

For my master's capstone project, I designed a randomized control trial (RCT) to evaluate three sanitation interventions in Bihar, India.

Previous sanitation studies found that building improved sanitation facilities did not neccessarily result in improved health outcomes for populations in rural India. However, those studies are limited to monitoring access to these facilities rather than use.

Often times, these facilities are not well maintained and the design combats the population's social norms. So, rather than looking at access to sanitation, my RCT proposed measuring the use of improved sanitation facilities and how that affects health outcomes.

The figure below shows my hypothesized causal pathway, starting with my three interventions and their underlying principles.

Hypothesized causal pathway for RCT

I measured use through adoption rates and health outcomes (specifically rates of reported diarrhea and soil-transmitted helminth infections). The interventions were based on changing collective behavior and/or developing facilities tailored to user preferences.

One of my interventions, which used human-centered design principles, earned me a spot as a finalist in the San Diego Social Innovation Competition.