Factors associated with perception of bad odor by users of ventilated improved pit latrines in Cape Coast, Ghana

  • P. A. ObengEmail author
Original Article


Perception of bad odor in sanitation facilities is one of the causes of open defecation, which is a major cause of water pollution in developing countries. This study assessed how users of ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines in Cape Coast, Ghana, perceive the level of odor in their latrines and identified the factors associated with perception of bad odor. A total of 211 users of 127 VIP latrines were purposively sampled from selected communities within the City. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to obtain information on the users’ perception of the odor level measured on an ordinal scale. The questionnaire also enquired the users’ characteristics and observations about the hygienic conditions of their toilets. An inspection checklist was used to assess the design and construction features of the latrines as well as the usage and maintenance practices. It was found that having a stake in a latrine’s ownership reduces the odds for perceiving bad odor in the latrine while attainment of higher education increases the odds. Furthermore, perception of bad odor was found to be more associated with the usage and maintenance practices (such as fouling of the squat hole or seat with excreta and mismanagement of used anal-cleansing materials) rather than the design and construction of the latrines. The findings of the study underscore the need to accompany the provision of sanitation facilities with user hygiene, as highlighted in the sanitation target of the sustainable development goals, else physical facilities alone cannot provide a guarantee against open defecation.


Odor perception Sanitation Ventilated improved pit latrine Cape Coast Ghana 



The authors wish to thank all who assisted in conducting this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that this work was funded from his own resources and has no conflict of interests.

Ethical approval

Human respondents of the study were not subjected to any form of treatment or trial so no ethical clearance was sought. Questionnaires were anonymised to conceal the identities of the respondents.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Water and SanitationUniversity of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana

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